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.

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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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Washington, DC – Senator Robert Dole, who died today at the age of 98, left behind an extraordinary record of contributions to the United States and to the world. Among them all, he deserves special recognition for the truly transformational role he played in the domestic and global fight against hunger.

A founding board member of World Food Program USA and a lifelong champion for anti-hunger causes both at home and abroad, among the greatest of his legacies, the McGovern-Dole Food of Education Program, has reached millions of school-aged children around the world with lifesaving assistance since its inception in 2002.

“I had the distinct honor and privilege to work with Senator Dole since 1979. There is no Member of Congress I have ever worked with that was more passionate about giving a voice to those who didn’t have one than Bob Dole,” said Randy Russell, World Food Program USA Board Chair.

“He saw the true potential in people and through his efforts helped millions of Americans and people across the globe reach theirs. Before my father passed away – a World War II veteran who was in the 82nd and 101st Airborne – I asked him who his hero was and without hesitation he said: Bob Dole. He was my hero, too.”

“As a Kansan, Bob Dole has been one of our favorite sons and one of the greatest legislators of all time. His work on behalf of the poor, disabled and hungry has been transformational in changing the lives for the better for citizens of his own State, and for the country as a whole,” said Dan Glickman, World Food Program USA Board Member and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. “He witnessed poverty as a kid in the Depression, and he always worked to aid the most vulnerable people at home and around the world. He had many great achievements, including feeding the hungry at home and globally, and especially his leadership in establishing the Americans for Disability Act. But I will always remember his great legacy as his wit and extraordinary humor in everything he did.”

Deep in his soul and driven by his conscience, Senator Dole possessed the impulse to feed hundreds of millions hungry people on our shores and abroad. Many of those people were rescued from the abyss of hunger because of his concern for their plight. Many others – including all of us at the World Food Program USA – have been inspired by him.

Today, as we mourn Senator Dole, we draw on that inspiration to do everything we can for as long as it takes to ensure that all people have the food and nutrition every human being deserves and must have to thrive.

Senator Dole is a shining example of America’s commitment to ending hunger in all its forms and is a figure central to this country’s legacy of leadership on issues related to global hunger. We offer our deepest condolences to his wife, the former Senator Elizabeth Dole, his daughter Robin and to the large family of friends and admirers he cultivated over a glorious career of public service.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and 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.

World Food Program USA, a 501(c)(3) organization based in Washington, DC, proudly supports the mission of the United Nations World Food Programme by mobilizing American policymakers, businesses and individuals to advance the global movement to end hunger. Our leadership and support help to bolster an enduring American legacy of feeding families in need around the world. To learn more about World Food Program USA’s mission, please visit wfpusa.org/mission-history.

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