WASHINGTON – As classrooms around the developing world begin to re-open, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is receiving $119 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide school meals in five countries in Asia and Africa.

“Yet again, the USDA demonstrates real leadership in reaching school-age children in the developing world with proper nutrition. In many countries, school meals are the only food some children receive each day, so we are enormously grateful for USDA’s support,” says Jon Brause, the director of WFP’s Washington office.

The United States provides school meals funding through a competitive award process managed annually by USDA’s McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program.

The latest awards, which take effect this month, see WFP’s programs in Cote d’Ivoire, Laos, Nepal and Rwanda receiving $25 million each, while WFP’s program in Bangladesh will receive $19 million.

The awards, in cash and in kind, enable WFP to feed about 841,000 children under agreements of three to five years. This amounts to an important bridge for these five governments, giving them temporary support until they can establish their own sustainable, national school feeding programs.

The McGovern-Dole program has provided meals to classrooms in the developing world since 2003, contributing significantly to students’ learning, health and nutrition. It has long been one of WFP’s largest funding sources for school feeding activities, including take-home rations when schools have closed due to Covid-19. Nearly 370 million children missed out on school meals so far this year, including 13 million receiving WFP ones.

“This support is yet another testament to the strength of WFP’s school feeding activities worldwide – and it comes at a critical time,” says Carmen Burbano, WFP’s Rome-based director of School Feeding.

WFP’s school feeding programs span 61 countries and are a key social safety net for poor and vulnerable households. In 2019, WFP provided school meals to 17.3 million schoolchildren, and helped governments reach an additional 39 million children.

Photos available 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. | Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA and @wfp_media

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):

  • Steve Taravella, WFP/ Washington, Mobile +1 202 770 5993
  • Shaza Moghraby, WFP/New York, Mobile + 1 929 289 9867

Vientiane – Rice and lentils from the United States arrived in Laos this week and were received by the U.S. Ambassador to Lao PDR, Dr. Peter M. Haymond, today at WFP’s Vientiane warehouse.

The donation consists of 68 containers of rice and 4 containers of lentils (1,290 metric tons in total) and will be used to cook school lunches for some 90,000 primary school children in rural areas of Lao PDR starting with the next term in September. For many children, this plate of hot food is the only daily nutritious meal they will receive, a meal that they had to manage without during the recent seven-week school closures due to the COVID pandemic.

“I am so proud that despite the challenges everyone is facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States is continuing to support daily school lunches for primary school students in the Lao PDR. School lunches are proven to help students achieve better academic results, and encourage higher attendance for all students, especially females and underrepresented groups. The United States stands together with the people and the Government of Laos to support the pursuit of this country’s development goals,” said Ambassador Haymond.

Since 2008, the U.S. Government’s McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has been supporting WFP school meals program in Laos. With a total of more than $60 million contribution, McGovern-Dole has helped more than 1.5 million children access daily nutritious lunches through WFP’s school meals program.

In order to shift to long-term, nationally-run school feeding programs, WFP has started handing over the supported schools to the government, with about 500 schools already integrated into the national school meals program to date. WFP is continuing to provide technical assistance to the government beyond the handover. In addition, WFP has made extra efforts to ensure and widen local supply of food to schools and community ownership. A specific program, also supported by USDA, has focused on linking school meals to local agricultural production. Currently, all 925 WFP-supported schools receive contributions of vegetables and greens from local farmers and school gardens.

“WFP’s school meals program is a social safety net for many poor and vulnerable families in Laos,” said Jan Delbaere, WFP Country Director and Representative. “We have learned that during the lockdown, poor households have the most acute challenges in accessing food. As schools are gradually reopening, we are attaching utmost importance to safe, hygienic standards and physical distancing measures all throughout our logistics chain up to the delivery of school meals in the villages. At the same time, we are doing our best to ensure families can keep their children in school by guaranteeing a healthy school meal. We are thankful for the United States as our long-standing partner in support of school children and rural families in Laos, especially in these uncertain times,” he said.

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The United Nations World Food Programme – saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.

Follow us on Twitter @wfp_media @WFPUSA

For more information please contact:

  • Ildiko Hamos, Partnerships and Communications Coordinator, ildiko.hamos@wfp.org, Tel. +856 (0)21 330 300 ext. 2229
  • Vilakhone Sipaseuth, Communications Officer, vilakhone.sipaseuth@wfp.org, Tel. +856 (0)21 330 300 ext. 2930
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