CARACAS – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is expanding its school meals program in Venezuela to reach more than 110,000 students and school staff in the northwest of the country, building on a pilot program that started in July 2021 in the state of Falcón.

Extending school meals support beyond Falcón to the states of Barinas, Trujillo and Yaracuy, the U.N. World Food Programme will gradually increase the monthly food rations it distributes in 1,000 pre-primary and special education schools. The program targets schoolchildren under the age of six in areas identified by the U.N. World Food Programme as most affected by hunger. The long-term goal is to provide meals in 11 Venezuelan states, reaching up to 1.5 million people by the end of the 2022-2023 school year.

“What the children receive today will have a positive effect on them for the rest of their lives,” said Marco Selva, the U.N. World Food Programme’s deputy country director in Venezuela. “This expansion reaffirms our commitment to provide nutritious food to children at this critical stage, when their brains and bodies need it to reach their full potential.”

“We have received very positive feedback from parents in Falcón who, after several cycles of distribution, tell us that their children are livelier, putting on weight and eager to go to school,” Selva added.

In total, more than 156,000 U.N. World Food Programme take-home rations have been collected at schools in the state of Falcón by parents or guardians on behalf of schoolchildren since July. The rations, which aim to cover the caloric requirements of young children for a month, consist of 13 pounds of rice, nine pounds of lentils, one pound of iodized salt and one liter of vegetable oil.

The pilot phase in Falcón was carried out in coordination with school authorities and teachers, and in partnership with non-governmental organizations. The U.N. World Food Programme manages its own supply chain, from purchasing food to distributing rations in schools.

Preparations are underway for the U.N. World Food Programme’s rations to be provided to children in schools, as in-person classes have now resumed after being suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.N. World Food Programme engineers are evaluating school kitchens and cafeterias to ensure that hot meals can be safely cooked and served on location.

The U.N. World Food Programme is grateful to international donors that have confirmed funding towards operations in Venezuela which will guarantee implementation of the program until April 2022. The U.N. World Food Programme remains in conversation with potential donors to secure additional funding so that vulnerable Venezuelan children get a head start in life.

For photos, click here.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

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