Thimpu – Bhutan has made impressive steps towards establishing a nationally-owned, sustainable school meals programme, a senior official of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said in a meeting on Tuesday with Tshering Tobgay, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bhutan.
“Giving a child a meal at school is a simple, cost-effective way to improve both education and health. There’s no learning on an empty stomach,” said Parvathy Ramaswami, Deputy Regional Director of WFP in the Asia and the Pacific region.
WFP has been providing food for students at school in Bhutan - three years ago, WFP still provided meals to most of the 50,000 day students in the country. But as the Government has taken responsibility for the programme, the agency has been phasing out its in-kind food assistance and today, more than half of students receive meals through the Government programme.
“As a nation, when we become more prosperous, we need to take responsibility and put in place a system,” for sustainable school meals, said Prime Minister Tobgay.
Ramaswami commended the Prime Minister on the Government’s holistic approach to school meals, in particular the integration of agricultural activities such as school gardens, which enable children to supplement their diet with vegetables. Ramaswami offered WFP support to explore further enhancement of the national school feeding programme through rice fortification with essential minerals and vitamins.
WFP is a committed partner of the Government in tackling the country’s food and nutrition security needs, and is ready to provide expert advice in emergency preparedness, building resilience to climate change, or in the analysis of household food security trends, said Ramaswami.
The work of WFP, which has been ongoing in Bhutan since 1974, is made possible by generous support from Australia, River Star Foundation, Japan Association for WFP and Yum! Brands.
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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.
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Piet Vochten, WFP/Bhutan, Mob. +975-1711-0190, firstname.lastname@example.org