Celebrating a Champion for Children's Health

Arlene Mitchell in China

Arlene Mitchell, who leads the agriculture programme at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was recently awarded the Gene White Lifetime Achievement Award for Child Nutrition from the Global Child Nutrition Foundation (GCNF).

Arlene was honoured the award for her leadership in school feeding programmes over many years, helping millions of children around the world get nutritious food to eat in schools.

The school feeding programmes that Arlene helped foster during her time at the World Food Programme (and has supported since in her role at the Foundation) is a powerful example of how the Foundation seeks out innovations that start a virtuous cycle of development; promoting ideas that help lift people out of poverty and into healthier more productive lives.

School feeding helps children go to school and stay in school and promotes school health and nutrition. The impact is particularly dramatic among girls and women, because extended schooling prevents early marriages and pregnancies. When girls are educated they are more likely to have fewer, healthier, and better-educated children and so the cycle continues.

School feeding programmes also provide local small farmers with a steady market for their crops, and they create new jobs, mostly for women, as cooks and caterers. 

Image Credit: Mike Huggins, WFP, Arlene Mitchell in China. 

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