Date of Award


Document type


Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Program

Education (also CAGS)

First Advisor

Gretchen Rossman

Second Advisor

Sharon Rallis

Third Advisor

David Buchanan

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Administration and Supervision


School feeding programs enhance the efficiency of the education system by improving enrollment, reducing dropouts and increasing perseverance. They also have the potential to reach the poor, directly making them an effective social safety net. In many low-resource countries, school feeding programs are designed to protect children from the effects of hunger. Unfortunately, the continuity of such programs is threatened by over-reliance on external funding. Given the patterns of withdrawal of external support, countries that rely on donor funds to implement such programs need to develop plans that will move them from external to localized support. It is well documented that programs that involve community members are self-sustaining. Regrettably, even though community members are involved in school feeding programs in Malawi, their participation is restricted to food storage and preparation and doesn't include decision making. Thus the transition plan for Malawi has to deliberately involve community members and influence them to take ownership of the school feeding programs.

This dissertation explored the use of Social Marketing, a strategy for influencing behavior change that applies traditional marketing techniques to persuade a target audience to adopt, adapt, maintain or reject a behavior for the benefit of individuals, groups, or society as a whole to plan school food programs in Malawian primary schools. Using focus groups and individual interview techniques, I carried out a qualitative study at a primary school in Malawi where the community has initiated a school feeding program with the aim of understanding the barriers and benefits of supporting such an initiative from the community members' perspective. The results show that the cost of producing food, particularly the use of chemical fertilizer, is the main barrier whilst ensuring that all children regardless of social-economic status have access to a meal at school is the drive behind this initiative. The Social Marketing campaign therefore focuses on promoting the use of eco-san toilets whose output is humanure in this school community so as to minimize the cost of producing food to ensure sustainability of this initiative.