The United Nations World Food Programme $10.7 million new grant is set to help vulnerable children get better access to nutritious food through school feeding programmes in Benin, Ghana, Honduras, and India.
The Rockefeller Foundation’s two-and-a-half-year initiative will concentrate on promoting more nutritious food throughout the programmes while also emphasising the inclusion of fortified foods in school meals.
More than one million schoolchildren are expected to be directly impacted by the project in Benin, Ghana, and Honduras as part of efforts to strengthen school meals for millions of children.
It will also support smallholder farmers by encouraging local food production and giving school cooks knowledge about the best nutrition practices for children.
The project seeks to reach more than 110 million schoolchildren in India through food fortification and communication campaigns that promote healthier eating. It will also support the technical assistance provided by WFP to the government’s school feeding program, directly benefiting 325,000 children in the country.
According to Roy Steiner, Senior Vice President for The Rockefeller Foundation’s Food Initiative, school meals are the only consistent meal for tens of millions of children in these countries.
He also noted that expanding school feeding programmes in ways that encourage the purchase of highly nutritious food will make those kids healthier while also triggering more significant changes in the food system.
“School meals give tens of millions of children in these countries their only reliable meal of the day. Expanding school feeding programmes in ways that promote the procurement of highly nutritious food will make those children healthier even as it catalyzes larger changes in the food system,” said Roy.
Roy says, the most significant contribution to eradicating world hunger and malnutrition will ultimately come from nutrient-dense, environmentally friendly, and just food systems.
A statement released by the Rockefeller Foundation today explains that school feeding programs are the largest global social safety net, directly assisting 388 million children worldwide.
It makes reference to studies that repeatedly demonstrate how these programmes can support regional agriculture, markets, and healthier diets while enhancing health, nutrition, and education in communities with a high risk of poverty.
“However, countries often struggle to provide adequate healthy foods to prevent malnutrition in school-aged children. More recently, school feeding programmes have also had to contend with the increasing costs of wheat and maize due to the combined effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine,” the statement says.
For Carmen Burbano, Director of the World Food Programme’s School Feeding Division, the two organizations share a dedication to eradicating hunger, enhancing food systems, and ensuring everyone’s prosperity for the rest of their lives.
“This project advances the World Food Programme’s 60-year support of national school feeding programmes but reaches even farther, aiming to transform the systems that bring food to school children and their families.”
By incorporating fortified beans and fortified wholegrain maize meal into school meals, the newly announced project expands on a previous grant to WFP from The Rockefeller Foundation to address malnutrition among children in Burundi, Kenya, and Rwanda.
WFP is collaborating with value chain participants and medium-sized millers to assist these nations in making the switch to whole grains, which have five times more nutrients than refined grains.
The grants are a part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Good Food strategy, which aims to improve small- and medium-sized food producers’ access to affordable, wholesome food while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the food system.
The School Meals Coalition, a group of 73 countries committed to ensuring that by 2030 every child in the world receives a daily, healthy meal in school, will benefit from this new $10.7 initiative as well.
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