Food and Nutrition Program for School Children and Youths

About the program

The school lunch program provides a nutritious complementary meal to students in public schools across the country, from families living in poverty or extreme poverty and develops a food culture and nutrition that promotes the practice of healthy lifestyles in the educational community. It is a program of the Ministry of Public Education of Costa Rica.

Country Costa Rica
Classification Alimentación escolar, Extension and information on nutrition
FNS Dimension Acceso, Utilización


  • Provide complementary meals to the student population.
  • Promote healthy eating habits, proper hygiene habits and behaviors around the daily diet.
Components and/or products


  • Subsidy to purchase food.
    • Purchase food to be prepared in the dining hall: In this modality a food supplier is selected (with unprepared foods) in order for these to be prepared, served and consumed in the student cafeteria.
    • Purchase prepared food (supply contract goods): This modality involves buying prepared foods which are to be served to the student population, respecting the authorized menu.
  • Subsidy for hiring (new) workers for the student cafeteria.
  • Allowance for equipment and infrastructure improvements for the student cafeteria.
  • Subsidy in order to establish productive projects in schools in the educational systems I and II Cycle and Academic High School (student orchards or vegetable gardens): This subsidy aims to strengthen the student dining room with the implementation of productive projects to stimulate agricultural production and training in schools. The money is allocated for the purchase of materials and supplies needed.
  • Technical support, training and development training for student orchards and Health Education in General Basic Education and Diversified.
  • Education for health: Student cafeterias are an important point of convergence, since in them the teaching and learning processes related to health promotion are strengthened and, moreover, constitute a space where children and youths can incorporate healthy lifestyles using the dining room service in order to develop of projects related to student orchards or gardens. With these services appropriate feeding practices are promoted and emotional stability and overall development of the student population is encouraged.
  • Nutritional surveillance.

About resource allocation priorities:

The priority allocation of resources defines two categories:

  • Category A: includes educational institutions in districts with high rates of social and economic lag or social risk, categorized as having levels of poverty and extreme poverty (according to the District’s Social Development Index, IDSD). The following are addressed in this priority ranking: Indigenous, multi grade schools, “Telesecundarias”, Rural High Schools, “Direcciones Uno” (with fewer than 100 students enrolled), centers located in urban marginal areas, centers serving populations of students with special educational needs and schools that work with extended hours and third days.
  • Category B: the schools which are not included in the above priorities.
Target population
  1. Students from families with low income.
  2. Students with nutritional problems such as low birth weight, malnutrition, overweight, obesity, anemia or other deficiencies.
  3. Students with special educational needs, pregnant women, single mothers and students with suspected risk related to psychosocial problems such as violence, addictions, abuse, among others.

The criteria for prioritizing targeting for beneficiaries in the cafeterias are:

  • Priority 1: Student with problems in three indicators (socioeconomic status, nutritional status, disabled and suspicion of psychosocial risk).
  • Priority 2: Students with problems in the indicators of nutritional status and socioeconomic status.
  • Priority 3: Students with problems in their nutritional status and psychosocial risk suspicion.
  • Priority 4: Students only with problems in their nutritional status.
  • Priority 5: Students only suspected of psychosocial risk.


It is a targeted social benefit for the educational institutions located in districts with high rates of social and economic lag or social risk, categorized as in a state of poverty and extreme poverty.

Geographical coverage Urbano
Responsible organism

Ministerio de Educación Pública

Executing organism Ministerio de Educación Pública
Financial sources

Fund for Social Development and Family Allowances (FODESAF), other contributions included in the national budget from ordinary and extraordinary resources generated by the educational community.