The Impact of Food for Education Programs on School Participation in Northern Uganda

Harold Alderman, Daniel O. Gilligan and Kim Lehrer 
Economic Development and Cultural Change 

There is a general consensus that food for education (FFE) programs increase primary school participation. Although this view is widely held, there is limited causal evidence to support it. Moreover, little is known about how the design of FFE programs affects schooling outcomes. This article presents evidence of the impacts of alternative methods of FFE delivery on schooling in Northern Uganda using a randomized controlled evaluation conducted from 2005 to 2007. We compare the impacts of the World Food Program’s in-school feeding program (SFP) with an experimental take-home rations (THR) program conditional on school attendance. Results show that the in-school meals program increased enrollment for those children who were not enrolled at baseline but who had reached the recommended age of school entry. For many outcomes we cannot reject that the THR impact is equivalent to that of the SFP. Both programs had large impacts on school attendance and reduced grade repetition. The SFP program also reduced girls’ age at entry to primary school. Neither program affected progression to secondary school, but children in grade 6 in SFP schools at baseline were significantly more likely to remain in primary school and repeat a grade than drop out. Program benefits may be improved by offering school meals in secondary schools as well, so that the attraction of school meals is at least neutral with respect to grade progression.

Publication date: 
1 Sep, 2012 
Source / Citation: 

Harold Alderman, Daniel O. Gilligan and Kim Lehrer. "The Impact of Food for Education Programs on School Participation in Northern Uganda" Economic Development and Cultural Change Vol. 61, No. 1 (October 2012) (pp. 187-218)