DHAKA – More than 6,000 children in Islampur Upazila under Jamalpur District will receive cooked meals at school by January 2014 through an initiative launched today by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Bangladesh, with funding from the Australian Government Overseas Aid Program (AusAID).
The inauguration ceremony in South Chinadoli Government Primary School was attended by the Honourable Minister of Primary and Mass Education Dr. Md. Afsarul Ameen, Honourable State Minister of Primary and Mass Education Mr Motahar Hossain, Australian High Commissioner to Bangladesh H.E. Mr Greg Wilcock, and WFP Representative Ms Christa Räder.
“The Government is pleased to launch this initiative with WFP which we hope will become a model as we are gradually expanding school feeding,” said Honourable Minister Dr. Ameen at the ceremony.
“A daily nutritious meal means that children are healthier and can concentrate on what they are at school to do – learn,” said H.E. Mr Wilcock. “Australia has provided over AUD 40 million to global school feeding programs through WFP over the last four years."
Instead of the micronutrient-fortified biscuits usually provided in school feeding programmes in Bangladesh, the students in Islampur will receive a freshly-prepared nutritious Khichuri each day at lunch time. The meals are made from locally-procured rice, pulses, fortified oil and home-grown vegetables. Locally-grown fruit is added when available. The rice is fortified with six essential vitamins and minerals, helping ensure the children get the nutrients they need to grow and learn well.
The initiative is designed to test the implementation of cooked school meals and will provide valuable information about the opportunities, challenges and costs of such a project, and provide evidence for possible scale-up.
“School meals cooked from local ingredients not only help students perform better in school and support their parents, but can benefit entire communities,” said Ms Räder. “We are grateful to the Australian government for enabling WFP to carry out this learning initiative together with the Ministry.”
The school meals initiative aims to benefit communities by employing local women as cooks and creating links with local vegetable producers. Women from the community will earn income by supplying vegetables for the school meals in their village school.
The initiative builds on the ongoing partnership between WFP and the Government, under which 2.7 million pre-primary and primary schoolchildren in Bangladesh currently receive micronutrient-enriched biscuits.
Distributions of nutritious food at school improve school enrolment and attendance rates by encouraging children to come to class and by supporting poor parents to keep their children enrolled. The food also helps alleviate short-term hunger, allowing children to concentrate better on their lessons, and provides much-needed vitamins and minerals that may otherwise be missing or insufficient in the children’s diet.
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For more information please contact:
Australian High Commission
184 Gulshan Avenue, Gulshan 2, Dhaka
Tel. (+880-2) 8813105 | Fax (+880-2) 8811125 | Web: www.bangladesh.embassy.gov.au
Christa Räder, Representative, WFP/Bangladesh, Tel. +880-2-9183022-33, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cornelia Pätz, Public Information Officer, WFP/Bangladesh, Tel. +8801755642167, email@example.com
Web: www.wfp.org/countries/Bangladesh | Facebook: www.facebook.com/WFP.Bangladesh