The World Food Program, WFP, has been awarded 81-million dollars in food commodities from the US Department of Agriculture, USDA.
The UN agency said the gift is critical to its school meal activities in developing countries. It said many poor households must choose between sending their children to school, or sending them to work.
A school meal, they emphasized, is a strong incentive to send the child to school, and for many it may be the only meal they receive that day.
Steve Taravella, a senior spokesperson for the WFP in Washington DC, said the USDA’s contribution will be used in four specific countries, three of which are in Africa.
“We’ll be using those commodities in Kenya, Malawi and Liberia. And in Kenya and Malawi we estimate that this award will allow us to feed about one and a half million school children, in each country. And in Liberia, about 450,000,” explained Taravella.
The other country receiving food is Cambodia.
“In this donation, they are giving us rice, yellow split peas, vegetable oil, bulgur, which is a high protein wheat, and a fortified nutritional product called corn soy-blend-plus, or CSB,” explained the senior WFP spokesperson.
Taravella emphasized that nutritious, reliable meals are essential because many school children only receive on meal per day, and because it is a way to help keep children in school.
This is especially true of young girls.
“Some communities are often confronted with a decision of keeping their girl child home to help with family chores, or send the child to school. And if they know that the child will receive a meal at school, or sometimes a take home ration that will help the family, then they’re more likely to send that girl child to school,” Taravella pointed out.
He explained that at least one healthy meal per day will keep young children strong, and help them grow stronger so that they can be more productive later in life. It’s all about strengthening the next generation, he said, and children who don’t receive nutritious food early in life with suffer for it.