Objective: The present paper analyses the advances and challenges of the school feeding programme in Brazil (PNAE), as part of the Brazilian experience building up an integrated food and nutrition security national system. It explores the role of policy and regulatory frameworks in constructing quality service delivery and intersectoral integration.
Design: Review of PNAE and federal government technical documents and studies, legislation, minutes of meetings and official documents of the National Council of Food and Nutrition Security from 2003 to 2011.
Setting: Food insecurity has decreased significantly in Brazil in the last decade, indicating that appropriate choices were made in terms of public policies and institutional arrangements, which other countries can learn from.
Subjects: Brazil food and nutrition security system; school feeding; school food.
Results: Brazil's integrated food and nutrition security policy approach promoted intersectorality in the food system, articulating actions to guarantee access to healthy food and to strengthen family farming. The quality of school meals has progressively improved; in particular, the availability of fruits and vegetables increased. However, national standards regarding menu composition have not yet been met. Regulations were an important factor, along with the policy approach linking food production, nutrition, health and education. Challenges are related to conflict of interests and to farmers' insufficient capacity to meet supply requirements and comply with technical procedures.
Conclusions: Local food production, school meals and nutrition education can be linked through integrated programmes and policies, improving access to healthier foods. Government leadership, strong legislation, civil society participation and intersectoral decision making are determinant.