Saudi Arabian Dates Will Boost Nutrition Among School Children in Nicaragua

Published on 25 May 2016

Fahad Aljunaidel, Representative from the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aids, standing next to the Francis Diaz, Vice Minister of Education, sharing dates with school children from the Rigoberto Lopez Perez Institute. Photo: WFP/Sabrina Quezada

MANAGUA –The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Nicaragua received from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia some 234 Metric Tons of dates, a nutritious fruit with a high nutritional content and numerous health benefit, for its distribution among Nicaraguan school children. 

The contribution, which is worth US$528,000, will be distributed to 162,000 children in 12 municipalities of the North Caribbean Autonomous Region, Jinotega and Matagalpa for a period of 160 days through the Ministry of Education’s School Meals Programme.

The Representative of the Ministry of Finance, Sultan Alfuhaid, representatives from the King Salman Centre for Humanitarian Aid and Relief, Fahad Aljunaidel and Mfarah Alghamdi, and the Consul and Head of the Economics and Cultural Section of the Royal Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Mexico, Mohammad Alkadi, attended the handover ceremony of the dates in Managua.

Among the attendees from Nicaragua were WFP Representative in Nicaragua, Antonella D’Aprile, the Administrative and Financial Vice-Minister of Education of Nicaragua, Francis Diaz, the Educational Advisor to the Presidency of the Republic, Salvador Vanegas, and representatives of the Ministry of Education and Foreign Affairs.

“With this contribution His Majesty Salman bin Abdulaziz, King of Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi people share with Nicaragua the gifts their generous land produces. We are very surprised to see how, in such a short amount of time, the dates have found a very special place in the hearts of Nicaraguans, especially the children who receive them as supplement in their school meals,” expressed D’Aprile. 

This is the third time Saudi Arabia donates dates to Nicaragua. Between 2013 and 2016, WFP received 442 Metric Tons of dates worth US$979,000. Dates are fruits produced by the date palm which grows in the desert; the fruits are harvested and dried in the sun and used in the preparation of multiple meals essential to the diet of families from the Arabian Peninsula. 

Dates have a high nutritional and energy value, they have numerous health benefits, emphasizing their importance in the treatment of anaemia. They are ideal for those who need large energy intakes, such as students and athletes. They improve mental agility, ability to concentrate and help regain strength after physical activity.

Ariel Rivera, principal at the Cristóbal Colón School in the community of Santa Rita, Mulukukú, located in the North Caribbean Autonomous Region, said his students loved dates from the moment they tasted them. “The children always wanted more than their portion. We had to give them more, because they asked for more.”

The sweet fruits will complement the food basket school meals are prepared with. It is composed of rice, beans, vegetable oil, powdered milk and cereal fortified with micronutrients. “The dates strengthen the children’s learning ability thanks to their numerous vitamins, proteins and they’re good for their health”, said Rivera.

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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.

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For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):
Sabrina Quezada Ardila, WFP/Nicaragua. Tel. 505 2278 4982, Mob. 505 8930 2987
Alejandro López-Chicheri, WFP/Latin America and Caribbean, Mob. +507 6671 5355
Jane Howard, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 65132321, Mob. +39 346 7600521
Gregory Barrow, WFP/London, Tel.  +44 20 72409001, Mob.  +44 7968 008474
Bettina Luescher, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41 22 917 8564, Mob. + 41-79-842-8057
Gerald Bourke, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-646-5566909, Mob.  +1-646 525 9982