Rapid urbanization, falling prices of food commodities, and prevalence of processed food are the main drivers of unsustainable modern diets. Unhealthy diets often lead to children being particularly more vulnerable to the triple burden of malnutrition, which presents malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies that coexist with alarming levels of overweight and obesity. Even though primary prevention is essential to reduce the negative impact, most policymakers do not view sustainable healthy school meals as a priority means to address public health issues. Currently in public food procurement, including school meals, many countries until now adopt the ‘best value for money’ principles in the acquisition of required goods, works, or services, which are often defined by the lowest cost.
Furthermore, the recent pandemic is exacerbating the challenges in the school food system. An FAO Survey conducted in May 2020 on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on urban food systems, where over 850 cities around the globe responded, showed that 86 percent regarded the closure of schools and the consequent suspension of school meals as a widespread problem experienced in all regions, for all city sizes, and country income categories.