Program Overview

The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program (“Food for Education”) is administered by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service. The program seeks to improve nutrition and promote education for the world’s poorest children by providing donations of U.S. commodities as well as financial and technical assistance. The program was authorized by the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002.

An estimated 120 million children around the world do not attend school; a large majority of whom are girls. One reason that children do not go to school is because they or their families are poor, cannot afford the fees and/or believe it is more productive to work or conduct household chores. Attitudes toward education also determine who in the household can attend school and for how long, with girls disproportionately disfavored.

Food for Education therefore focuses on providing an incentive to send children to school, improving the learning environment at the school, and creating parent-teacher associations and other community-support mechanisms. Meals in school and take home food rations as a reward for regular attendance are two proven incentives, as well as building toilet facilities and water pumps at the school.

In FY 2009, the McGovern-Dole Program provided more than 126,523 MT of commodities to support child nutrition and school feeding programs in 18 countries, the total value of which exceeded $168 million. In 2008, the World Food Prize named McGovern and Dole as World Food Prize Laureates for their commitment to child nutrition and school attendance.

How it Works

Eligible organizations include nongovernmental organizations, intergovernmental organizations and foreign governments. USDA issues regulations, guidance and an electronic proposal format for nongovernmental organizations and foreign governments that are interested in submitting proposals for Food for Education. An organization may submit a proposal for one, two or several years. The fiscal year 2014 guidance is currently on the USDA website.

Each fiscal year, USDA identifies on their website the priority countries for Food for Education, focusing on countries that meet the following criteria:

  • per capita income at lower or lower-middle income standards (using World Bank statistics);
  • greater than 20 percent prevalence of undernourishment as a proportion to the total population (WHO data);
  • adult literacy rates below 75 percent;
  • a net food importer;
  • government commitments to education; and
  • no or limited civil conflict that could impede implementation of the program.

The program plan must include measurable objectives, such as improving literacy, primary education, or the educational environment for students, particularly girls. Programs may support economic development in the area and, where possible, be coordinated with other existing food aid programs in the area. Proposals must show how the project’s objectives will be sustained once USDA funding and food aid has ended.

USDA advises that proposals that provide the greatest impact per beneficiary will receive preference.  At a minimum, each proposal must provide the number of beneficiaries targeted and the impact of the program on those beneficiaries.  It will also look at:

  • the intended outcomes of the program, for example, the percentage of children that show improvements in literacy and numeracy or nutrition;
  • the percentage of children in school and the anticipated percentage increase in attendance levels and progression rate changes;
  • whether the proposal has clear impacts and outcomes; and
  • whether there is a realistic sustainability plan.

Once a Food for Education program is approved and an agreement is signed with USDA, the applicant is called a “Cooperating Sponsor” and it can order (“call forward”) the commodities for delivery.

The USDA Kansas City Commodity Office is responsible for buying the types and amounts of commodities identified on Cooperating Sponsor’s call forward. USDA procures the requested commodities by issuing a tender to commodity suppliers and processors. USDA evaluates the commodity bids and picks the one(s) that would result in the lowest landed cost based on a combination of the cost of the commodity and the cost of shipping it to the destination country. USDA awards the commodity contract, which identifies the dates that the commodities must arrive at U.S. port and be ready for shipping.

The Cooperating Sponsor, through a tender process, arranges for the cargo to be shipped from the U.S. port and to the recipient country. The Cooperating Sponsor is responsible for handling and management of the commodity throughout the program, including delivering the food aid in accordance with its Food for Education agreement with USDA. The organization must submit progress reports every 6 months to USDA.

Past Programs

2010 Programs

Country Cooperating Sponsor Number Benefited Estimated Value ($Million)
Bolivia Project Concern International 251,106 $6,179,842
Cambodia World Food Program 96,080 $16,861,977
Guatemala Project Concern International 167,395 $5,118,489
Kenya World Food Program 652,657 $9,378,314
Laos Humpty Dumpty Institute 85,485 $4,128,091
Liberia World Food Program 348,000 $6,435,578
Malawi World Food Program 388,709 $8,338,539
Mozambique Joint Aid Management 603,770 $20,000,000
Pakistan World Food Program 300,000 $10,000,000
Pakistan Land O’Lakes 169,200 $5,842,240
Senegal Counterpart International 270,543 $8,458,220
Tanzania Project Concern International 244,315 $7,717,615
Uganda ACDI/VOCA 70,000 $12,177,597
TOTAL 3,647,260 $120,636,502

Previously Approved Allocations Through Multiyear Agreements

Country Cooperating Sponsor Number Benefited Estimated Value ($Million)
Bangladesh World Food Program 350,000 $7,970,344
Cambodia International Relief and Development, Inc. 85,282 $1,280,000
Cameroon Counterpart International, Inc. 36,000 $2,710,000
Chad World Food Program 103,500 $5,629,966
Ethiopia World Food Program 160,391 $4,466,751
Guatemala Asociacíon SHARE de Guatemala 72,300 $9,140,000
Laos World Food Program 100,000 $2,990,738
Rwanda World Food Program 300,000 $9,107,523
Sierra Leone Catholic Relief Services-U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops 36,800 $2,320,000
TOTAL 1,244,273 $45,615,322
GRAND TOTAL All McGovern-Dole Program Allocations 4,891,533 $166,251,824

Additional Information and Success Stories from the Field

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)Visit the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) WebsiteProject Concern International (PCI)McGovern-Dole School Feeding Program in Bolivia Improves Children's Health and Academic PerformanceCounterpart InternationalMcGovern-Dole School Feeding Program in Senegal Supports School Garden and Nutrition Education