School Meals: "I Want My Children to Achieve More Than I Have..."

The productive and sustainable school feeding programme in Bolivia assists every year 40,000 children of rural areas. In three departments, Chuquisaca, Tarija y Pando, WFP gives one meal (breakfast or lunch) which is complemented by second meal that is provided by the municipal government. The purpose of the programme is that children, especially girls, attend classes, reduce hunger in the short term and focus on their lessons.

"When I was little, we the girls did not go to school. If we did, we reached only third or fourth grade. I was taken out of school when I was on second grade because my father had died and my family needed more hands to help in the field,” says Herminia Pocota, mother of four children who attend the Punilla Pampa School, in Zudañez municipality, at the Chuquisaca department.

Herminia is part of the School Board so she has to supervise the administration of food given by WFP and the municipal government. She also monitors the food preparation, under the productive and sustainable school feeding programme.

"Mothers take turns to cook”, says Herminia. “Each one has to cook two days per month. Before, the stove smoked much, we couldn’t even breathe and our eyes were always red. But since we have the new LOLA stove we come happier to cook”.

Three women waiting to collect food for them to serve as dinner for their families
Mothers of children from Punilla Pampa School, in Zudañez municipality, at the Chuquisaca department, wait in the school’s kitchen for the food to be ready to serve lunch to their children.

The LOLA stove is an ecological stove made of mud and brick that emits less smoke and uses less wood. They were built with WFP support and the Association of Municipalities for School Feeding (MAECH, in Spanish) at each one of the 250 schools in Chuquisaca, supported by the productive and sustainable school feeding programme.

Herminia and other mothers say that they do the cooking and food supervision for free because this is their contribution to the school feeding programme. They believe that school feeding will help them one day finish school and get an education that will help them end poverty. “I want them to be better than me, I want them to become professionals, to work and to be better every day,” says Herminia.

In fact, when one asked the children at school the simple question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, they answered "I want to be a Doctor!" "I want to become and Engineer!" "I Want to be a Teacher!" Those are the little children’s wishes that they expect will come true. The World Food Programme, the government and their parent’s determination are helping them achieve their dreams.

Hermina and her friend prepare lunch to be served at school
Herminia Pocota prepares lunch for children at Punilla Pampa School, in Zudañez municipality, at the Chuquisaca department (at background, draining the potatoes before throwing them into the pot).