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WFP Begins School Feeding Program In Haiti

To encourage school attendance and ensure healthy minds and bodies, WFP supplies a nutritious daily lunch to more than 400,000 pupils in 850 primary schools
To encourage school attendance and ensure healthy minds and bodies, WFP supplies a nutritious daily lunch to more than 400,000 pupils in 850 primary schools

The World Food Program and other United Nations aid agencies are scaling up their humanitarian operations for millions of Haitians affected by the earthquake, which devastated their country in mid-January.  The World Food Program reports it is beginning a program to provide cooked meals for thousands of school children in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince on Monday.

The United Nations reports about three-million people, almost one-third of Haiti's population, have been badly affected by the earthquake.  It says improvements have been made in reaching those in need of food, water, healthcare and shelter.  

But, it notes humanitarian needs in Haiti remain great and the emergency phase of humanitarian relief operations will have to continue for many months.

In line with this reality, the World Food Program says it will begin providing cooked meals for children in 19 schools in the capital Port-au-Prince on Monday.  It says the aim is to reach some 50,000 children in 70 schools with cooked meals over the coming weeks.

The World Food Program has distributed essential food rations to two-million hungry people in and around Port-au-Prince since the earthquake struck.  And, spokeswoman, Emilia Cassela, says a special rice distribution program started a few weeks ago is reaching many more people.

"The total number of people to have received rice rations in the scale up that we have been doing this month is 2.7 million people in Port-au-Prince," she said.  "In addition, 500,000 people have received food assistance in the surrounding area and that includes more than 30,000 people in Jacquemel who receive a daily hot meal and more than 200,000 people in and around Leoghane who have been provided with rations," said Cassela.  

Cassela says the World Food Program is scaling up the rice distribution program for a further week to reach people in some of the more densely populated areas of Port-au-Prince where many homeless people are gathered.

"And, then now, what we are going to be doing is scaling up to provide a fuller food basket-rice, beans, cooking oil, corn soy blend, which is a high nutrient fortified food and cooking oil to about 1.5 million people in Port-au-Prince starting in early March," she said.  "That will be focused on the people who are most vulnerable-those people who are still in particular need of food assistance," she concluded.  

Other UN aid agencies also are accelerating their humanitarian operations.  The U.N. Children's Fund says it plans to expand its activities in the realm of protection, education, water and sanitation.  

UNICEF says adequate water and sanitation was a problem before the earthquake struck and remains a major concern.   It says about 2,600 latrines have been built in Port-au-Prince, but some 21,000 additional latrines still need to be built.

The World Health Organization says health needs have changed since the earthquake hit Haiti on January 12.  It says the focus of its assistance now has shifted to post-operative care and follow-up of patients who have undergone surgery.  

The World Health Organization says people with disabilities need rehabilitative services and people living in overcrowded conditions with poor shelter and sanitation need primary health care services.

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