The Government of Nicaragua achieved the goal of providing hot nutritious meals to all of the preschool and public elementary schools of the country. The Vice Minister of Education, José Treminio (r), informed that this year 1.5 million children are receiving meals in school. “Once again the people and the government of Nicaragua recognize the role played by WFP as a key partner that accompanies us in this important task of guaranteeing food for all children across the country as part of the food security and food sovereignty policy”, said Treminio. WFP Representative, Helmut Rauch (l), participated in a ceremony marking the start of the third distribution of food from the capital Managua to 156 municipalities in the country.
School meals are a Nicaraguan government strategy to promote attendance to preschool and elementary schools; especially in the poorer rural areas of the country where food is scarce in homes. WFP’s support of this programme guarantees food to prepare the snacks for more than 1 million students, providing rice, corn, beans, vegetable oil, cereal fortified with micronutrients, and powdered milk. WFP’s support for the Ministry of Education is equivalent to approximately US$800,000.
The School Feeding Programme has international recognition because of the numerous benefits it provides to rural and urban families. Furthermore, school meals are an incentive for parents to enroll their children in school and it also contributes to the reduction of school drop-outs. It combats hunger in the short-term and it has been proven that after a hot nutritious meal, children have improved concentration in class and comprehension. Students in the “Rigoberto López Pérez” Elementary School in Managua, celebrated the beginning of the distribution of the food that the Minister of Education, accompanied by the WFP, is delivering to all the schools in September, October, and November 2013
WFP Representative, Helmut W. Rauch, and students of the National Institute “Rigoberto López Pérez” cheer the departure of trucks loaded with food for the public schools across Nicaragua. “For me it is an honor that WFP is by the side of the Ministry of Education in this important programme for the children of Nicaragua. To WFP the commitment of the Government of Nicaragua to the School Feeding Programme is very important: To guarantee a universal human right, such as the right to food and good nutrition,” said Rauch. He also greeted the parents who support this effort by preparing the meals for the students.
In addition to the food contribution, WFP provides technical assistance to the Ministry of Education to facilitate and speed up the land, river and sea transport of food. “Working with the transportation mechanisms implemented by WFP is simplifying our job of transporting the food to the schools,” said Vice Minister Treminio. The WFP Logistics Unit works hand in hand with the Ministry of Education's technical staff to ensure that 23,000 metric tons of food are trasnported efficienty and arrive on time at 10,000 schools.
Parents play a key role in the School Feeding Programme. They organize their communities with the help of teachers to ensure the food reaches the schools, cook meals for the students and help improve the daily school meal. With funds provided by WFP, the schools also receive kitchen utensils such as plates, cups, and spoons for children.
The contributions of the international community, to WFP programmes help reduce malnutrition in Nicaragua. WFP's main donors are Australia, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, Brazil, Spain, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Italy, Luxemburg, Germany, New Zealand, and private organizations like the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, TNT, Yum! Brands and WFP USA. "Thanks to all of the generous contributions we receive from countries that are our friends and our private sector partners, the food reaches the schools”, said the WFP Representative, Helmut Rauch.