School Feeding Program (SFP) is a targeted safety net program designed to provide educational and health benefits to vulnerable children. However, limited evidence exists regarding the effect of the intervention on the nutritional status and school attendance of children. The study is aimed at examining the effects of SFP on dietary diversity, nutritional status and class attendance of school children in Boricha district, Southern Ethiopia.
The study was conducted based on a representative data collected from 290 students drawn from the district. A school-based comparative cross-sectional study was conducted on school children aged 10–14 years. Data were collected using structured pretested questionnaire. The effects of SFP on dietary diversity score (DDS), class attendance rate, body-mass-index for age (BAZ) and height-for-age (HAZ) Z-scores were assessed using multivariable linear regression model.
The finding showed significantly higher mean (±SD) of DDS in SFP beneficiaries (5.8 ± 1.1) than the non-beneficiaries (3.5 ± 0.7) (P < 0.001). BAZ and HAZ of the beneficiaries were also higher than their counterparts, which were (0.07 ± 0.93), (− 0.50 ± 0.86) and (− 1.45 ± 1.38), (− 2.17 ± 1.15) respectively (P < 0.001). The mean (±SD) days of absence from school for non-beneficiaries (2.6 ± 1.6) was significantly higher than that of the beneficiaries (1.3 ± 1.7) (P < 0.05).
Given the positive effects of the program in improving the DDS, nutritional status, and class attendance of school children, we strongly recommend scaling up the program to other food insecure areas.
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- School feeding program has resulted in improved dietary diversity, nutritional status and class attendance of school children
Carol J. Henry
- BioMed Central
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