MONROVIA – On 15 June, more than one thousand primary school children in six schools in northern Liberia’s Nimba County will start eating nutritious school meals prepared from locally produced food as the World Food Programme (WFP) in collaboration with the Ministries of Education, Agriculture, and Health launch the pilot phase of the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme.
The Home-Grown School Feeding Programme is to gradually replace the current school meals programme; it will use food produced by Liberian farmers for school meals for 300,000 primary school children across the country
WFP and its partners plan to support local women farmers to grow and produce foods such as yams, cassava, potatoes and palm oil, and will then purchase those foods to use for school meals. As well as encouraging a more varied and nutritious diet for Liberian school children, whose main staple food is rice, the programme will bring new income opportunities for farmers, improve gender parity; and strengthen water and sanitation services.
“School meals are a powerful tool to encourage children to attend school regularly and this Home-Grown School Feeding Programme will contribute significantly to the nutritional status of primary school children, while benefiting the local communities through supporting small scale farmers grow and sell their food crops” ” said WFP’s Deputy Country Director Mr. Wurie Alghassim.
“Partnerships with the Government of Liberia, FAO, UNICEF as well as UNDP have been crucial for setting up this initiative. It is this long-standing collaboration that has led to the development of home grown school meals in Liberia,” added Alghassim.
WFP supports school meals worldwide as a major safety net for encouraging primary school children to enrol, attend and remain in school. In Liberia, WFP and the Ministry of Education increased the number of students receiving daily school meals from 127,000 to 300,000 in nine counties in April 2016. WFP also provides take-home rations for the whole family to over 3,000 adolescent female students as an extra incentive to keep girls in school.
To acknowledge the vital role school meals play in Africa’s education system, the African Union this year established the African Day of School Feeding. The event was celebrated for the first time on 1 March 2016 with the theme “Home-Grown School Feeding - a Conduit for Africa’s Sustainable Development”.
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