Bars & Biscuits: How Two Hungry Little Girls Stay Nourished, and in School, With Our Help

Photo: WFP/Saikat Mojumder
World Food Program USA
Published August 13, 2020
Last Updated December 4, 2021

Millions of kids around the world go to school every day on an empty stomach – if they’re lucky enough to go to school at all. Young ones living through war are twice as likely to be out of school as their peaceful counterparts, and 2.5 times more likely in the case of girls. When schools aren’t able to serve breakfast or lunch, hungry children miss out on a vital source of nutrients.

It’s one of many complex factors that contribute to shockingly high rates of childhood malnutrition around the world.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is working to change that. We’re the world’s largest provider of school meals, reaching millions of kids every year. By providing meals that keep them nourished, we help keep them in school even in the most dire circumstances.

For National Cookie Day, Meet Rewa and Rubina and the delicious snacks that help them learn and grow.

Rewa’s Bars
A young girl in a school uniform holds a wrapped bar up to the camera, smiling.
Photo: WFP/Hussam Al Saleh

We sent the winning Rewa a monetary prize and some musical instruments and stationary for her and her classmates.

Rewa Mohammed’s got talent.

The seven-year-old Syrian girl won a U.N. World Food Programme Children’s Design competition with her drawing of a vision of a peaceful future, where children can live happy, normal lives.

Sadly, she’s grown up with the opposite: War is a destabilizing, living nightmare for kids.

But when children know they’ll get a meal at school every day, it helps keep them in the classroom. That’s why we give Rewa and kids across Syria fresh milk and locally-produced date bars. They’re fortified with vitamins and minerals, providing roughly 30 percent of a child’s daily energy needs.

School meals like these are critical in war-torn countries like Syria, where we’re fighting for education, health and nutrition for all kids.

Rubina’s Biscuits
A young girl standing in a tent in a yellow backpack smiles at the camera
Photo: WFP/Saikat Mojumder

Rubina arrives back to her tent after school.

Eleven-year-old Rubina loves to learn.

But when her family fled violence in their home country of Myanmar, it wasn’t clear how she would continue her studies. Rubina’s father was paralyzed and couldn’t work. Thankfully, they found shelter in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, the largest refugee camp in the world.

Now, Rubina goes to a school for Rohingya refugee children, and a snack of nutritious biscuits is one of her most important school supplies. To help them grow and study, we developed these nutrient-rich High Energy Biscuits for kids like Rubina in the camp and for vulnerable children all over the world. They contain up to 15 grams of protein, 450 calories and 15 vitamins and minerals. These kinds of foods not only provide critical sustenance, they help improve retention, attention and learning.

Daily meals bring vital nutrients and a sense of normality and consistency to destabilized young lives. They also encourage parents to keep their children – especially girls – in school.

School meals help vulnerable kids focus on their studies and their dreams, reimagining a life beyond war and violence. They are just one part of our larger scope of work to fight childhood malnutrition and save young lives. Visit our Childhood Hunger and School Meals hubs to learn more.