CSOs Successfully Advocate for Healthier Food in Georgia’s Schools
In Georgia’s education system, school nutrition poses a substantial challenge for both students and their families. The UNICEF Child Welfare Survey published in 2023 found that a mere 27% of children consume food daily at school, while 35% never eat at schools. Those who do buy food at the school cafeteria often have no choice but to purchase food with little or no nutritional value.
With support from the USAID Civil Society Engagement Program, the CSOs Parents for Education and Coalition Education for All have carried out widescale campaigns advocating for the sale of unhealthy foods at school cafeterias to be banned and a free school meals program to be introduced nationwide. The organizations’ campaigns have also engaged closely with groups of active parents.
On September 25, Parents for Education initiated a petition for the sale of unhealthy food at schools to be banned, which secured 10,000 signatures within a few weeks. Parents for Education then met with the Minister of Education and Sciences of Georgia in late October and discussed pressing issues at schools, including the problem of nutrition. On November 24, the ministry issued a decree banning the sale of unhealthy food products at schools. The order outlines the requirements and a new monitoring mechanism for the operation of catering facilities in schools with the aim of reducing the risk of obesity and non-communicable diseases.
Following this significant advocacy success, both organizations are continuing to carry out awareness campaigns to highlight the importance of nutrition in schools and advocate for a nationwide free school meals program.