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Panel: Return to School: What Changes are Needed to Deliver School Nutrition Safely when Schools Open

About the Session:

Return to School

Through this session, panelists share their experiences in the global process of reopening schools amidst the pandemic, the impact of school closures and its effects on food and nutrition of school children, and what we are learning about the role that programs like school meals can play in mitigating challenges now and into the future.

The Speakers:

  • Moderated by Ms. Mamta Gurung Nyangmi, Asia Pacific Program Coordinator, Global Child Nutrition Foundation
  • Mr. Vijay Bhaskar, Director MDM and NAT, Ministry of Education, Government of India
  • Dr. Donald Bundy, Professor, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Ms. Deepika Sharma, Nutrition Specialist, Nutrition of School-age Children and Adolescents, Nutrition Section, UNICEF
  • Ms. Cornelia Sage, Chief of Party School Feeding, Catholic Relief Services, Laos

The Highlights:

  • India’s Midday Meal Scheme provides school meals to 116 million children. During school closures, Provinces distributed Food Security Allowance comprising of grains, pulses, and oil in lieu of hot cooked meals until the schools reopened.
  • CRS School Meal Programs prioritizes the opening of schools for marginalized groups including girls and younger children who rely on school meals for their daily nutritional intake. CRS acknowledges the following conditions as essential to their adaptive programming: working with national governments, partnering with a broad range of stakeholders, the flexibility of donors, and the use of technology.
  • There was a global burden of malnutrition prior to COVID-19. While most countries had a school health and nutrition program, few included a comprehensive set of interventions. The pandemic has exacerbated the situation.
  • In this session, Ms. Deepika Sharma provides an overview of the guidance for re-opening schools.
  • The question and answer session addresses take-home rations reaching targets, the National Food Security Act in India, and monitoring of nutrition status of children in middle childhood.

About The Speakers


Mamta Gurung Nyangmi

Asia Pacific Program Coordinator
Global Child nutrition Foundation

Mamta Gurung Nyangmi is a development strategy consultant currently based in Nepal. She has over 15 years of experience in international and community development specializing in policy, advocacy, program design and project management. Presently, Mamta is the Asia Pacific Coordinator for Global Child Nutrition Foundation leading its government engagement in over 60 countries, fostering partnerships, facilitating regional networks and managing its Learning Exchange project in India. Prior to this Mamta was the Head of Education Support at the World Food Programme in Nepal where she spearheaded a holistic school health and nutrition operations, creating convergence of school meals programs with literacy, health and hygiene initiatives to enhance learning in rural public schools. She has worked extensively in safety net and social protection field including as Program Director at Chhaya Community Development Corporation in New York. Mamta has served in several leadership roles most recently as Board Chair at Asha for Sexual Violence Survivors and as Board of Director at Adhikaar for Human Right among others. Mamta has worked in the private sector and in the media covering print, radio, television and films. With a passion for social and gender justice Mamta is deliberate about ensuring equality and inclusivity lens through her work. Mamta holds Bachelors in International Development from City University of New York and Masters in International Development from Cornell University.



Dr. Donald Bundy

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Donald Bundy is Professor of Epidemiology and Development at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He has worked for more than 30 years on the role of school-health and nutrition programmes in the development of school-age children and adolescents, especially in poor countries. He currently serves as Senior Advisor to the World Food Programme in Rome, and also advises the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation in London, the World Bank in Washington DC, and several national governments. Before joining the London School in 2018 he was Deputy Director and Senior Advisor to the Global Health Team of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, based in Seattle and London. Previously he served for 15 years (1999-2014) as Lead Health Specialist at the World Bank in Washington DC, with a focus on the interface between the health and education sectors, and coordinated the bank’s programme for NTDs and the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control. These policy roles built on his earlier academic career (1979-1999) at the University of Oxford, Imperial College London and the University of the West Indies. Donald has authored more than more than 390 books and scientific publications, and produced award-winning documentary films on the role of public health in development, including a series for PBS. Donald founded the Partnership for Child Development in 1992, which was recognized as best practice in the UK Parliamentary Review 2019. He has contributed to all three editions of the World Bank’s Disease Control Priorities since 1993, and in the current edition led Volume 8, Child and Adolescent Health and Development, which has been re-printed twice with the World Food Programme and with the Global Partnership for Education.

Presentation Materials:

Resources Shared in Presentation:


Vijay Bhaskar

Director MDM and NAT
Ministry of Education, Government of India

Mr. Vijay Bhaskaris the Director of Midday Meals and NAT at the Ministry of Education, Government of India. An experienced bureaucrat and a long time champion of school health initiatives, Mr. Bhaskar’s portfolio among other things include managing the Midday Meal Scheme, the largest school-feeding programme in the world- feeding over 100 million children. Mr. Bhaskar was instrumental in promoting school nutrition garden in schools, and since the pandemic Mr. Bhaskar has taken special initiative for the provision of Food Security Allowance distribution under MDM during the pandemic.

Resources Shared in Presentation:

  • Ministry of Education, Government of India – Midday Meals Scheme:

Cornelia Sage

Chief of Party School Feeding
Catholic Relief Services, Laos

Cornelia (Neila) Sage is the Chief of Party for Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) Learning and Engaging All in Primary School (LEAPS II) in Savannakhet, Laos, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). LEAPS II aims to improve literacy for 40,000 school-age children in 350 schools in Savannakhet through four primary streams of programming: school meals, literacy, inclusive education, and WASH. Neila manages the LEAPS II project to ensure program fidelity and quality so that all students in the 350 schools have a hot lunch and an improved learning environment. Neila started her career as a Spanish and World History teacher in an all girls’ school in the United States. After completing her master’s degree in international education at New York University she worked on various research projects studying the impact of education globally. She worked as the Project Director for a study in Ghana examining female teacher leadership and girls’ access to education. She then transitioned to the role of Research Director for a randomized control trial in Afghanistan measuring the effects of community-based education. She joined CRS in 2018 in Laos.

Presentation Materials:


Deepika Sharma

Nutrition Specialist
Nutrition of School-age Children and Adolescents
Nutrition Section, UNICEF

Deepika Sharma is a public health nutritionist with extensive experience working on strengthening policy and advocacy. She leads UNICEF’s global portfolio on Nutrition of School-age children and adolescents at UNICEF headquarters in New York. She provides technical support to UNICEF’s seven regions towards scaling-up the school nutrition work. She also has the experience of working within the government public health system. She has worked with various international organizations on gender, adolescent nutrition, reproductive and sexual health, and life skills. Deepika is a Ford Foundation Fellow and holds an MPH from Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, as well as a Master’s in Business Management from India.

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