From 2021 to 2024 the UN WFP has been implementing a project called Promoting Sustainable Home-Grown School Feeding through Enhanced Local Food Production Systems in Cuba.

Like in the CIS countries, SIFI is providing assistance with its implementation.
The National Coordination Team presided over by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Cuba is actively involved in the Project as well.

Upon the implementation of this Project Cuba will have:
  • Sustainable National School Meals Programme, based on local agricultural production, ensuring schoolchildren's access to a healthy and diverse diet
  • Food system that is resilient to natural hazards and climate change, providing schools and social canteens with adequate food
The Project covers five eastern provinces and 12 municipalities
1. Las Tunas: Colombia | Puerto Padre
2. Granma: Guisa | Buey Arriba | Bartolome Maso
3. Santiago de Cuba: II Frente | III Frente
4. Guantanamo: Baracoa | Maisi | El Salvador
5. Holguin: Mayari | Cuento
Project implementation
Just as cooking any dish begins with knowing the ingredients, so any project begins with examining the current situation to select the most appropriate mechanisms for implementation
In 2021, the SIFI team conducted a comprehensive assessment of school feeding
What have we learned
Legislative and regulatory framework, management structure of the National School Meals Programme
Main factors affecting the development of school feeding:
food procurement system,
school infrastructure,
availability and condition of school gardens,
parental involvement in the organization of school meals, promotion of healthy eating and nutrition among children and their parents,
school staff training in the topics of organization of high quality school meals.
Financing mechanisms for the National School Meals Programme
Renovate and refurbish pre-school and school canteens, including providing the access to safe water and electricity
Prepare a specific document clearly describing the National School Meals Programme, defining its aims and objectives as well as its monitoring and evaluation system.
What do we offer
Identify stable sources of funding for school feeding.
Equip school canteens with modern technological equipment for preparing or delivering meals
Develop mechanisms for involving local farmers and cooperatives in the food supply for schools
Conduct staff trainings for those who are directly involved in organising school meals: school principals, cooks, local and regional government officials
How does the school feeding work in Cuba
The National School Meals Programme is a source of pride for the Cuban Government, as well as being an essential part of the social assistance campaign and an indispensable help for working mothers.

The origins of school feeding in Cuba date back to the 1960s, when, following the 1959 revolution, the Cuban Government expanded education in order to increase the country's literacy rate and integrate women into the economy.

A broad social campaign aimed at supporting vulnerable children, especially those living in rural areas, took place. The areas such as health, education, culture and sports received great attention by introducing programmes to improve children's health and well-being.

The 1990s were difficult for Cuba. The country loses its main ally and economic partner, the USSR, and the US imposes economic sanctions. All this, of course, affects the education sector, which faces a budget deficit.

The National School Meals Programme (PNAE, its Spanish acronym) now operates nationwide. There is a separate budget line for the Programme in the national budget, with funds allocated to provinces, municipalities and schools.

The main objectives of the National School Meals Programme are:
  • efficient interaction between local farmers and the National School Meals Programme;
  • increased diversity of school menus and consumption of home-grown vegetables, fruit and greens;
  • monitoring of food safety;
  • promotion of healthy lifestyles, raising public awareness of the importance of healthy nutrition and its impact on academic performance;
  • high quality of education and interaction with families (including civil society organisations' support).

Free meals are provided to children attending pre-primary, boarding and semi-boarding primary schools and secondary schools.

Due to lack of funding, the programme does not cover the primary school children (6-11 years old) in external schools, which is more than 350,000 children. These children are supposed to go home for lunch and then come back to school for the next session.
In most cases, however, the mothers of these children are housewives with no source of income, which means that these families are in particular need of state support.

The inclusion of the primary school children from the external schools into the National School Meals Programme will help families in need of government support, improve the health and academic performance of pupils.
And the fact that children will not have to go home for lunch and then return to school for the remaining session will increase attendance and enable children to learn more, thereby improving the quality of education.