Policy development and setting the objectives of school nutrition provides the framework for implementing all the other recommendations aimed at improving education through better health and nutrition. Analyzing the nutrition and health situation of school children with focus on causes of energy and micronutrient deficiencies has become a way to engage governments in the problems of that age group and the necessary content of the policy for school nutrition programming and provision of school food services.

Many governments have given private enterprises the responsibility for preparing and delivering a ready to eat meal or snack. It is argued  that governments should encourage small local enterprises. Some school canteens in Lesotho, for example, are run by former local vendors who successfully bid on the privatized service. In Nigeria state and local governments train and license vendors who sell to schoolchildren. In Indonesia school principals use their power to choose the vendors who serve their schools.

Another problem to tackle with policies are quality and hygiene of the food served. Governments need to regulate what is sold by commercial vendors and regulate the standards of sanitation. Even in the United States, concern for the nutritional quality of foods provided by private vendors has made the move to privatization slow; yet where it has occurred, the benefits appear to be substantial.

Cohen M. (1991) ‘Use of Microenterprises in the delivery of Food programs to School children” World Bank
The author discusses the significant contribution street food trade makes in some areas to the diet of school-age children and argues for using this part of the food distribution system when considering school nutrition programming. Project experiences suggest that the informal institution of street food vendors have been effectively used to deliver nutrition/food assistance to schoolchildren. Working with street vendors to improve the nutritional quality and safety of these foods involves an approach that considers not only the needs of children but also the financial viability of the enterprise and the training and management needs of the individual vendor. It is suggested that the success of using this approach for school nutrition programming depends on involving all institutions which may affect the legitimacy of this economic activity, i.e., municipal and local government, ministries of education and health, and non-governmental organizations which represent vendors’ interests.

Converting from a Government supplied to a privately supplied school lunch program in Rhode island has lead to cheaper yet tastier and more nutritious lunches in the public schools there. The state government recently terminated its twenty-five year old program of centrally planned and purchased lunches for the public schools and hired private contractors to take over the program. The annual cost of the program plummeted from US$11 million to US$ 200,000 and federal and state subsidies fell almost one half. An expressed concern at the time of the conversion was that privately run program would emphasize profit over nutritional quality, but the new program delivers higher nutritional value than the old program did and student participation in the program have soared. Glass,Stephen. 1995 Incredible yet Edible; How Rhode island beefed up its school lunch program. Washington Post. (September 3)

  • Regulation of vendors and the quality, hygiene and standard of the food provided.