BISHKEK – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is scaling up hot school meals to cover more than half of Kyrgyzstan’s primary schools over the next five years, thanks to a contribution of US$10 million from the Russian Federation.
With this support from Russia, WFP will be able to continue making a difference in the lives of schoolchildren across the Kyrgyz Republic while at the same time boosting local agricultural production and rural development, especially among the poorest.
The expansion of the programme was announced at a ceremony in the Novopokrovka School.
“Thanks to the support from our long-standing partners the Russian Federation and WFP, we can improve school meals in Kyrgyzstan, ensuring their benefits go beyond the classroom,” said the Minister of Education of the Kyrgyz Republic, Gulmira Kudaiberdieva.
In 2013, with initial funds of US$12 million from Russia, WFP launched a model school meals programme in partnership with the Ministry of Education. The aim was to boost the country’s national school feeding programme that benefits around 400,000 primary school children.
Since then, this initiative has been widely recognized for its efficiency and sustainability, and received critical support from national and local authorities, communities as well as spurred interest from other donors such as Japan and private sector companies.
Currently, the programme provides nutritious hot meals to 114,000 primary school students in 335 schools around the country. Thanks to this new contribution from Russia, the programme will be expanded to reach an additional 175,000 students in over 500 new schools in the country’s poorest rural areas.
“We aim to ensure that all primary school-aged children in the Kyrgyz Republic have access to safe and nutritious food all year round,” said WFP Kyrgyz Republic Country Director Andrea Bagnoli. “School meals improve the learning environment for young children so they can achieve better results, paving the way for increased economic productivity in the future.”
With new funding, WFP will continue investing in renovating canteens, providing schools with kitchen equipment, training school chefs and helping schools establish vegetable gardens to grow their own fresh fruits and vegetables.
The Ministry of Education and WFP have pledged their commitment to continuing improving national school meals policy – this will include revising procurement regulations so that more produce can be purchased from smallholder farmers.
“The Russian Federation is proud to be making a real difference, paving the way for a stronger education and food system in the country,” said the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Kyrgyz Republic, Andrey Krutko. “We’re committed to broadening our support to WFP and the Kyrgyz Republic to enable the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, so there is better education and food security for everyone.”
Since the start of WFP operations in the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation has contributed over US$60 million in support of WFP’s activities, making it the single largest donor to WFP in the Kyrgyz Republic.
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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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