Targeting School Feeding Programs at Vulnerable Sub-Groups

Study of School Feeding Programs' Impact on Anemia Status in Pre-adolescent Girls and Other Vulnerable Household Members in a Cluster-Randomized Trial in Uganda


Lead Sponsor: International Food Policy Research Institute

Collaborator: Makerere University
World Bank
United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)

Source International Food Policy Research Institute
Brief Summary

School feeding programs provide students meals conditional on school attendance, which can have impacts on school participation, cognition and learning, and nutritional outcomes. Although the literature on impacts of school feeding programs is substantial, high quality studies with evaluation designs that provide causal impact estimates are relatively few. Thus program impacts on educational, cognitive and nutritional outcomes are not well-understood, particularly in a field setting. Nutritional impacts in particular are questionable, which may be a result program design. Most studies provide only small transfers to children and examine average macro-nutrient effects of the transfer on the treated children, thus it is not surprising that detection of nutritional gains has been minimal.

This study is a cluster-randomized evaluation of a school feeding program administered by the World Food Programme in the Northern Ugandan Districts of Lira and Pader. The program provides substantially larger food rations than most programs (representing 1/3 of children's daily caloric needs and 99% of iron intake requirements).

The key research objectives are:

1. Impact on the treated: Assess the effectiveness of the program at improving nutritional status, education and cognitive and learning outcomes for school-age children, with particular attention to the anemia status of older school-age girls .

2. Impact on untreated but nutritionally vulnerable sub-groups: Assess the effectiveness of the program at reducing anemia prevalence in mothers and younger siblings.

3. Optimal program design: Assess the differential impacts of a program in which children are fed at school compared with one in which they are given dry rations to bring home.

Overall Status Completed
Phase N/A
Study Type Interventional
Primary Outcome
Measure Time Frame
Mothers' and Children's Nutritional Status 15 months
Secondary Outcome
Measure Time Frame
Cognitive Performance 15 months
School achievement 15 months
School Participation 15 months
Enrollment 2083

Intervention Type: Other

Intervention Name: In School Feeding

Description: The intervention provides meals consisting of 1049 kcals of energy, 32.6 gm protein, and 24.9 gm fat per child per school day and meet at least two thirds of the child's daily vitamin and mineral requirements, including 99 percent of iron requirements. SFP delivers these nutrients in the form of a fortified corn-soy porridge around mid-morning and beans and maize meal or rice at lunch.

Arm Group Label: In School Feeding

Intervention Type: Other

Intervention Name: Take Home Rations

Description: The rations provided in the intervention are equal in size and composition to the food received in the in-school feeding intervention, but are provided to households once per month.

Arm Group Label: Take Home Rations



Inclusion Criteria:

- School age children

Exclusion Criteria:


Gender: All

Minimum Age: 6 Years

Maximum Age: 13 Years

Overall Official
Last Name Role Affiliation
Marie Ruel, PhD Principal Investigator IFPRI
Lira District | Lira, Uganda
Pader District | Pader, Uganda
Location Countries


Verification Date

December 2010

Responsible Party

Name Title: Marie Ruel/Director

Organization: IFPRI

Has Expanded Access No
Condition Browse
Number Of Arms 3
Arm Group

Label: In School Feeding

Type: Experimental

Label: Take Home Rations

Type: Experimental

Label: Control

Type: No Intervention

Study Design Info

Allocation: Randomized

Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment

Primary Purpose: Prevention

Masking: None (Open Label)