How effective are food for education programs?

A critical assessment of the evidence from developing countries

Sarah W. Adelman, Daniel O. Gilligan, Kim Lehrer
food policy review
2008

Food for education (FFE) programs, including meals served in school and take-home rations conditional on school attendance, attempt to improve these investments by subsidizing the cost of school participation through providing food that could improve nutrition and learning. This study examines the economic motivation for the use of FFE programs to increase investments in education and nutrition. The study then presents a critical review of the empirical evidence of the impact of FFE programs on education and nutrition outcomes for primary-school-aged children in developing countries. The main contribution of this study is to judge and summarize the strength of the evidence based on the extent to which existing studies have identified a causal effect of an FFE program, as opposed to finding an association between the program and key outcomes that may have been affected by other contextual factors.