FIX MY FOOD: Children's Views on transforming food systems

FIX MY FOOD: Children’s views on transforming food systems

700 children and young people from 18 countries share their views on food systems and key challenges to eating nutritious, safe, desirable, and sustainable food, and the improvements necessary for the 21st century.

Fix My Food (UNICEF)

Our Vision

Every child has the right to nutrition. The quality of food eaten by children and adolescents determines their health and development. Meeting a child’s optimal nutritional requirements for physical and cognitive growth has been shown to increase lifelong health and economic productivity which, in turn lays the foundation for thriving communities. However, internationally, children and adolescents consume poor quality diets and experience malnutrition in all its forms. At the same time, climate change is exerting unprecedented and devastating pressure on food systems. Yields of major cereal crops will decline with steadily increasing temperatures, and water scarcity will impact the ability of large parts of the world to continue to grow fruit and vegetables.

Sustainable food systems, which encompass the production, transformation, distribution, marketing, purchasing, and consumption of foods, are critical to ensuring all children and adolescents are able to access nutritious, safe, affordable, and sustainable foods. However, current food systems are failing children and adolescents and so urgent action to radically transform food systems and deliver on children’s right to good nutrition is needed.

Governments, civil society organisations, the private sector, and others must prioritise the specific nutritional rights, needs, and aspirations of children and adolescents to collectively and effectively tackle the challenge of child malnutrition. States, public and private stakeholders, civil society, development partners, and communities must take bold, decisive, and far-reaching action to transform food systems and support environmental sustainability.

The research undertaken in this project helped us to understand children’s views and perspectives on food systems, key challenges to attaining nutritious, safe, desirable, and sustainable food, and how children want food systems to change. Children expressed a strong desire to be engaged in dialogue and action to transform their food systems, and to address food poverty, food quality, environmental degradation, and climate change.

Young people are calling on political leaders and public and private- sector stakeholders to work across all levels of society to strengthen food systems; from implementing effective regulation of food industries to promoting individual and community behaviour change. Their views captured in this project will be presented to the UN Food Systems Summit 2021 to help identify efficient and effective ways to build strong and equitable food systems to accelerate international efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Our Project Plan

Between June and August 2021, UNICEF’s Country Offices in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal, the Netherlands, Nigeria, State of Palestine, Sri Lanka, Turkey, United Kingdom, and Zimbabwe conducted in-depth, qualitative workshops with school-age children and adolescents.

Workshop used Young and Resilient’s child-centred distributed data generation method, where children complete a series of fun and interactive activities, working in groups to respond to questions, carry out creative exercises like drawing, and participate in discussions. Activities are designed to capture participants’ experiences of food and the challenges to food systems in their own words, and generated diverse forms of data for analysis, from paper-based surveys to diagrams, drawings, written text, and digital photographs.

Where needed, workshop responses were translated from local languages to English and then coded using a variety of quantitative and qualitative techniques that gave a voice to the rich insights children offer.

Project History

To support UNICEF's 2019 State of the World's Children report on adolescent nutrition, Young and Resilient researchers recently completed a global research project involving living labs workshops with adolescents from 18 different countries (Fleming, et. al. 2020). That work highlighted adolescents' everyday lived experiences of food and nutrition and represented ground-breaking work in the field because of its direct and rich engagement with adolescents themselves. Outcomes were well received internationally by domain researchers and policy-makers in part because they foregrounded the potential for adolescents to meaningfully contribute to informing and shaping global food policy.

The UN Secretary-General has called for a UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) in 2021 to launch bold new actions to transform global food systems. UNICEF’s Executive Director has committed to lead Food Systems Dialogues (FSDs) with children and adolescents worldwide as part of the UNFSS. Following the success of our 2019 project, UNICEF specifically engaged the original Young and Reslient research team to continue and refine our existing research method and practice towards surfacing adolescents' ideas about food systems for inclusion in the FSDs, and or an event to be held at the UN General Assembly in 2021.

This current project is the result of that engagement and harnesses our robust participatory research methodology to capture and present data to contribute to the UN dialogues to ensure that children’s voices are part of and inform UN commitments for food system transformation.

What Impact will this research have?

Outcomes from this project will contribute to the UN Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) in 2021, presented as part of UNICEF’s global Food Systems Dialogues with children. The full report and individual country level reports will also be shared with the 18 participating countries to inform their national food systems strategies.

Research Outputs

Research Outcomes

  • New knowledge about children’s experiences of their local/national food systems
  • New knowledge about children’s ideas for local/national/international food systems transformation
  • Specific child-centred recommendations about transformation of food systems policy and practice for consideration by UNICEF and UN

Collaboration team

Internal collaborators

  • Dr Catharine Fleming
  • Professor Amanda Third
  • Dr Shiva Chandra
  • Ms Kaitlyn Hockey
  • Dr Girish Lala
  • Dr Luke Munn

External collaborators

  • Ms Deepika Sharma (UNICEF)
  • D’Arcy Williams (UNICEF)
  • UNICEF Country Offices and National Committees, host governments, NGO and industry partners: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal, the Netherlands, Nigeria, State of Palestine, Sri Lanka, Turkey, United Kingdom, and Zimbabwe

Project support

  • UNICEF Global Nutrition Team
  • Dr. Victor Aguayo (Director, Nutrition, UNICEF)
  • UNICEF Division of Communication
  • UNICEF U-Report team




Enhancing Health and Wellbeing

Realising Participation and Engagement


June – September 2021

Contact: If you would like to get in contact with the Fix My Food team, please email Dr Catharine Fleming at