The World Food Programme (WFP) and the Ministry of Education and Sports on Feb 9 agreed to continue their cooperation around providing school lunches, supporting 63,000 school children around the country with a daily healthy plate of food and a variety of related activities.
The agreement was signed by Minister of Education and Sports Sengdeuane Lachanthaboune and WFP Country Director and Representative Jan Delbaere on continuing WFP’s support to the government around providing school lunches for primary school students in 18 districts across the country.
The United States Department of Agriculture’s McGovern-Dole programme is renewing its support to WFP’s school meals programme which it has funded since 2008, with contributions totaling more than US$60 million.
Children receive a daily nutritious meal prepared with the rice, lentils and vegetable oil donated by the U.S. Communities enrich the meals with eggs, vegetables and condiments. Produce from school gardens, small livestock activities and fish ponds, which have been established through collaboration between the government and WFP, add further colour to the children’s plates. The support also encompasses literacy activities, installation of school water supply and provision of hand washing stations.
“A cost-benefit analysis of WFP’s school feeding programme conducted in 2018 showed that school lunches are an excellent investment. For every US$ 1 spent, the return is US$ 6. Not only has Laos seen an average 14 percent school enrollment increase over the last 10 years, children receiving school meals are also spending one year longer at school compared to their peers,” said Ms Sengdeuane. “We are happy that WFP’s support to schools around the country will continue for another five years.”
The success of the past years has informed the award of this new grant from the U.S., expanding the support to priority target districts in 12 provinces where school lunches have not previously been provided. Until the end of the programme, in 2025, WFP will work on a coordinated transition into the National School Meals Programme. In this new stage of the support, WFP is partnering with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to support the ministry in implementing a comprehensive package of school health and nutrition activities.
“Our overall goal at WFP is to ensure that child malnutrition numbers decrease in Laos. With providing healthy food at primary schools, we are supporting the government’s targets on access to nutritious food and primary education for children from vulnerable households,” said Mr Jan Delbaere.
Source: Lao News Agency