WFP Celebrates African Day of School Feeding
MONROVIA– Today the African Day of School Feeding was inaugurated, marking AU recognition of school meals as the world’s most widely used safety net with a vital role in education. The event will be celebrated in Liberia under the lead of the Ministry of Education (MoE) in the later part of the month of March.
School meals provide critical social support, encouraging more regular attendance at school and contributing to children’s protection in emergencies. They are also a key long-term investment in millions of people’s futures, in local economies, and in reducing hunger across the globe.
In Liberia, the World Food Programme (WFP) in coordination with the MOE currently provides nutritious school meals to 127,000 school children located in nine counties. In an effort to encourage enrolment of female students and continuity in school, WFP also provides family take-home rations to over 4,000 adolescence female students in targeted schools.
“School meals programmes are a vital way to not only increase class enrolment but to also sustain attendance, improve school performance, and to grow local economies,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.
Meanwhile, in Liberia, the Ministry of Education in conjunction with the World Food Programme has embarked on a head count enumeration exercise in order to expand the number of students benefiting fromschool meals from 127,000 to 300,000 in the same counties.
In Africa, more than 10 million children benefited from WFP school meals programmes in 41 countries in 2014. More than half the children assisted worldwide by WFP with school meals live in Africa. Globally, over 370 million children receive school meals in 131 countries, primarily through government systems.
Home-Grown School Feeding
The first Africa Day of School Feeding focuses on Home-Grown School Meals, where local farmers produce food that is then purchased for use in school meals, maximizing the benefits for students, farmers and local communities.
WFP Liberal’s Country Director Mr. Sory Ouane says “As part of its post-Ebola response programming WFP has embarked preparations to pilot Home Grown School Feeding in Liberia in partnership with key stakeholders, in order to boost agricultural development”. In Liberia, in collaboration with MOE and MOA, a joint Home Grown School Feeding concept has been prepared by FAO, WFP, UNICEF and UNDP. “WFP believes the Home Grown School Feeding practice is the best way to ensure sustainability of the School Feeding Programme whereby primary school students in food insecure areas will continue to benefit” added Mr Ouane.
Such programmes equate to an income transfer to students’ families and economically benefit communities, leading to higher incomes for students as educated and productive adults. Investments in school meals produce remarkable benefits and, according to an analysis conducted by WFP, every dollar spent on a school meals programme can result in a return worth as much as US$3 to US$9.
WFP, the world’s largest humanitarian supporter of school meals, partners with other agencies and governments in 41 African nations on school meals programmes, providing technical and operational support to governments that guide the individual projects and tailor these to their unique needs. This includes securing primary school children’s access to a balanced, nutritious meal, promoting opportunities to diversify the food basket with local products, and reinforcing skills and good habits in nutrition, health and hygiene.art of the month of March.