about the author
Public Information Officer
Kongkea Chhoeun is a Cambodian national working for WFP in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Since time immemorial, it has been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Mothers say eating a healthy meal in the morning helps improve one's performance in school. But what exactly is the impact of WFP School Meals on lives of students like Thien Seng So in Cambodia?
KAMPONG CHHNANG - “When I am older, I want to become a doctor so I can help the poor in my community. I believe I can do it if I continue to focus on my studies,” saysThien Seng So confidently. Thien is a girl in fifth grade from Krang Sramar Primary School in Kampong Chhnang province, in Cambodia.
Thien and her three younger siblings live with their 60 year-old grandmother. Illiterate, landless, and indebted, her parents migrated to Thailand to find work in plantations two years ago. Her eldest sister had to drop out from school at the age of 15 to follow her parents in search for work.
“My grandmother is a widow and could not find work, so she was dependent on what little money my parents sent from time to time to feed us. But there were months when they could not send money. Those months were bad as we had little to eat but the hardest thing for me was going to school on an empty stomach”, she narrates.
The risk that Thien would drop out of school was high due to her difficult living conditions. But when WFP's School Meals Programme started in her school two years ago, Thien realized she would have a chance to stay in school, learn and eat a good breakfast everyday.
WFP School Meals provide a daily nutritious breakfast to more than 400,000 children in primary school. The breakfast includes rice, yellow split beans and fish, cooked with vegetable oil and iodized salt. It serves as an incentive for vulnerable children such as Thien to enroll in school, attend class regularly and complete their education.
Since Thien started receiving breakfasts in school, she no longer has to worry about getting hungry in the middle of the school day, which means she can stay focused on her classes. “I can now fully concentrate on my studies,” she proudly claims.