Haiti: 43,000 children to receive school meals prepared with local products
PORT-AU-PRINCE – Thanks to the expansion of a home-grown school feeding programme supported by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), 43,000 Haitian school children will receive hot meals prepared daily with fresh ingredients bought directly from local small-scale farmers. The initiative will kick off in the new school year (2019-2020) which starts on 9 September.
“It is a win-win situation,” said WFP Country Director in Haiti, Pierre Honnorat. “On one hand, children are eating healthy meals made with fresh ingredients, and on the other, farmers have a predictable outlet to sell their products, leading to a stable income, more investments and higher productivity.”
WFP’s home-grown school feeding programme, implemented in coordination with the Ministry of Education of Haiti, has been expanding every year since its launch –from 3,500 children in 23 schools in 2015, to 43,000 children in 193 schools today. Initially launched in the Nippes department, the programme is now also operational in the Artibonite department.
For the school year 2019-2020, the home-grown school feeding programme is funded by the governments of Canada and Japan. In previous years, the programme has also been funded by the Brazilian and French governments. WFP is working with a local NGO –the Bureau de Nutrition et Développement (BND)—and two farmers’ associations –Ropanip and OFDAD—to implement the programme.
A stable outlet for farmers
One of the main goals of the programme is to support local agricultural production. More than 2,200 farmers –among whom 43 percent are women—are selling their products through the programme. Fresh produce is delivered on a weekly basis to schools, while dry products –such as rice– are delivered on a monthly basis.
Last school year, WFP bought more than 700 metric tons (MT) of food from smallholder farmers through this programme, including 179 MT of rice, 149 MT of maize, 110 MT of peas, 58 MT of cabbage, 40 MT of eggplant, 35 MT of carrots and 140 MT of other fruits and vegetables.
A healthy diet for school children
Another objective of the programme is to provide a healthy diet to children. By sourcing the products directly from nearby farms, WFP is able to include fresh ingredients on the menu, especially vegetables and fruits. This is essential to ensure children have all the vitamins and minerals they need for their development.
Towards a 100 percent local programme
WFP distributes school meals to approximately 275,000 children in Haiti. Among them, 43,000 receive meals prepared with local products, and 232,000 receive meals prepared with a mix of local and imported products. WFP’s goal is to increase every year the proportion of ingredients bought locally, in line with Haiti’s National School Feeding Policy. In 2018, 44 percent of all the products bought for the programme were locally grown.
In Haiti, local school meals are 35 percent more expensive compared to meals prepared with imported products, however, they represent an investment for the country as the money invested stays in Haiti and benefits Haitian agriculture.
More funding needed
While the home-grown school feeding programme is increasing, the WFP regular school feeding programme halved the number of beneficiaries over the past five years (from 600.000 to 300.000) due to decreased funding. To be able to revert to its original and distribute daily hot meals to 600,000 children in Haiti, WFP will require an additional US$13 million.
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