General Mills Foundation Partners with World Food Program USA to Support Preschool Meals in Rural China

Published December 12, 2018
Last Updated May 22, 2019

Washington D.C./Minneapolis, MN – The General Mills Foundation announced a three-year grant with World Food Program USA to support meals for preschoolers in rural, impoverished areas of China.

The grant will help fund a pilot program developed by WFP China and the Chinese government to address malnutrition among 3- to 5-year-olds in high-poverty provinces. Research has demonstrated that children in poor, rural areas are more likely to suffer from malnutrition than those in cities. The pilot will provide preschoolers with a free, healthy school lunch as well as nutrition education. Through this, it aims to reduce rates of malnutrition in targeted areas to match those of the broader Chinese population by 2020.

“Early childhood is a critical time to ensure children are well-nourished to avoid devastating long-term consequences of hunger and malnutrition, which is why we are excited to support this pilot program for preschool students,” said Mary Jane Melendez, executive director of the General Mills Foundation. “Our new partnership with WFP in China allows us to deepen and expand our existing partnership into a new region.”

Investing in school meals has been proven to generate significant long-term social and economic gains. Preschoolers are at an important stage of growth, and malnutrition can permanently harm children’s physical and emotional development, preventing them from reaching their full potential and contributing to their communities.

In addition to improving child nutrition, the pilot project will also benefit small-scale farmers. The school meals program will purchase fresh food from local small-scale farmers to serve participating preschools, bringing them a new source of income. More than half of the world’s 821 million food-insecure people are small-scale farmers, and improving their livelihoods is critical to helping end hunger.

“The preschool meal project has provided nutritious lunch for more than 1,500 children in 29 schools since its launch in May,” said Qu Sixi, WFP China representative. “The progress we’ve seen so far demonstrates that there’s great potential to replicate it in other impoverished areas, which will contribute to China’s rural revitalization efforts.”

The grant is the latest example of WFP partnering with the private sector on sustainable solutions that save and transform lives while fostering economic growth. Food security is fundamental to economic growth. Countries with high levels of chronic malnutrition face limitations in the development of its population’s skills, knowledge and experience, which are all required to achieve sustainable growth. Studies have shown that a dollar invested in hunger prevention returns $15 to $139 in benefits.

“We are grateful to our partners at General Mills Foundation for their commitment to helping WFP USA end global hunger,” said WFP USA CEO Rick Leach. “Nourishing children is one of the greatest investments we can make in our future, and WFP’s exceptional school meal efforts would not be possible without the support of U.S. companies like General Mills.” 

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 About World Food Program USA

World Food Program USA is a 501(c)(3) charity that proudly supports the mission of the World Food Programme, the leading humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Each year, WFP reaches more than 91 million people with lifesaving food assistance in 83 countries across the globe. By mobilizing individuals, lawmakers and businesses in the U.S. to advance the global movement to end hunger, World Food Program USA bolsters an enduring American legacy of feeding families in need around the world.

About General Mills

General Mills is a leading global food company that serves the world by making food people love. Its brands include Cheerios, Annie’s, Yoplait, Nature Valley, Häagen-Dazs, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Old El Paso, Wanchai Ferry, Yoki, Blue and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, General Mills generated fiscal 2018 consolidated net sales of US $15.7 billion, as well as another US $1.1 billion from its proportionate share of joint-venture net sales. For more information visit and follow our A Taste of General Mills blog.