WFP Takes The Stage

Leading minds in nutrition and school feeding took center stage at WFP’s spotlight session to ask, "How do we ensure children's access to quality foods?" Social safety net programs are part of the answer.

Tanuja Rastoji headshot
WFP Nutrition Coordinator Tanuja Rastogi reporting from the International Congress of Nutrition (ICN 09) in Bangkok.

Moderated by Tufts University Professor Patrick Webb, the session’s panelists  (WFP’s Martin Bloem, IFPRI’s Marie Ruel and Lesley Drake of Deworm the World) heralded new energy and fresh perspective on social safety net programs as integral parts of the solution - while helping to bridge the fields of nutrition and school feeding. 

Sparked by the current financial crisis, safety net programs are gaining global attention and featured prominently in the G8 and G20 Summits. They can be unique opportunities to impact child undernutrition.   

Nutritionally Energized 

As the week wound down, WFP reps gathered in a loud but comfortable café across from the exhibition hall to share knowledge and reflect on new opportunities. Mihoko Tamamura, WFP India Country Director knows about child undernutrition.   One-third of the world’s undernourished children live in India and she’s actively involved in the country’s efforts to reduce the burden. 

Energized by sessions, she reflected on WFP’s nutrition agenda, “ I feel we are on the right track on nutrition and, also, feel validated that the India CO is not alone in our approaches.”   Understanding the importance of partnerships, Mihoko developed new connections with civil society, leading Indian experts and several potential private sector partners this week.    

Strengthen work

Similarly Monira Parveen, Head of nutrition in WFP’s Bangladesh country office, connected with many of her nutrition counterparts to “clarify understanding over targeting beneficiary populations”.   She came to the ICN to share findings from Bangladesh on the impact of high food prices on the nutritional status of under-five children to the global community.  Tapping into the international network of leading nutrition experts, she goes away immensely excited on how she can strengthen her work. 

After leaving the café, I reflected on how to expand what we have learned beyond that table – sharing this common understanding on nutrition and renewed energy is a priority.   

Nutritionists stand with WFP 

In a touching moment of silence, ICN coordinator, Dr. Kraisid Tontisirin asked the audience of a nearly 2000 nutritionists to stand in solidarity with WFP as we mourn the loss of our colleagues in Pakistan.  

The enormous plenary hall fell silent as the audience who gathered for the ICN closing session rose up.   Dr. Tontinsirin's  words resonated across the hall, “this was not only a loss for WFP.”  It was quite clear that this was one family who shared a belief in the need to improve the lives of millions less fortunate than ourselves.