Tag Archives: school meals

Interview: Lorene Didier of the World Food Programme in Haiti

Haiti is one of the 45 nations needing emergency food assistance this year according to the US Famine Warning System. Natural disasters, including Hurricane Matthew, has worsened food shortages in the impoverished nation. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is Haiti’s lifeline for overcoming hunger.

WFP provides school meals to children to reduce hunger and improve class attendance.

School feeding in Haiti is one of the most important projects of the World Food Programme. (WFP/Lorene Didier)

One the major sources of funding for school feeding in Haiti is the McGovern-Dole program run by the United States Department of Agriculture. However,  McGovern-Dole is to be eliminated under a new budget proposal from the President of the United States. The United States Congress does have a chance to save McGovern-Dole funding for Haiti and other impoverished nations.

Let’s learn more about school feeding in Haiti and the impact of McGovern-Dole funding in this interview with Lorene Didier of the World Food Programme.

For the current school year you are reaching 400,000 students with school meals, almost half of which is provided by McGovern-Dole funding?

Correct. We are distributing 400,000 hot meals every day to school children, among which 175,000 are funded directly by McGovern Dole.

Is there enough funding for the school meals starting next school year?

Without further funding, WFP will have no other choice than to reduce the number of school children reached in the 2017/18 school year by 15%, which means WFP will no longer be able to provide daily meals to 60,000 school children in Haiti next school year.

Is food from local Haiti farms being provided with any of these meals? 

We are procuring local commodities such as rice, salt and maize meal. In 2016, WFP was able to purchase 1,753 tons of locally grown rice. WFP is also distributing meals to 7,000 children in the department of Nippes prepared with 100% of locally grown food, including fresh vegetables. This provides local farmers with a predictable outlet for their products, leading to a stable income, more investments and higher productivity. The children enjoy healthy, diversified meals; this makes it more likely that they will stay in school, perform better and improve their adult job prospects. Next year, WFP will increase the number of school children receiving 100% local school meals from 7,000 to 15,000.

Is summer feeding going to be provided so the students don’t lose the meal when school closes?

WFP will not be able to implement summer feeding as we have to prioritize the limited funding available to provide meals to children at school during the school year.

What has the impact of school meals been in areas where the hurricane struck? Have the meals reduced malnutrition and improved attendance?

WFP is currently distributing school meals to 27,000 children in Grande Anse, the most affected department by Hurricane Matthew. In Grande Anse many families of farmers lost all their crops and food stocks after the hurricane and many of them will not be able to provide sufficient food for their families until at least the next harvest in June 2017. It is therefore crucial for children to be able to have access to at least one nutritious meal a day at school to help ensure they are not too hungry or malnourished.

In addition to school meals, WFP is also distributing specialized food to 27,000 children and 25,000 pregnant and nursing women in order to prevent malnutrition in the most hurricane affected areas. This is complemented by a family ration benefiting around 126,000 persons.

Originally published at Blogcritics Magazine:

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A Holiday Gift for Hungry Children

It is the right of all children to grow up with food and education. Yet so many go without. But if we can give children worldwide a holiday gift, why not let it be school meals for the New Year.

See my  commentary at The Huffington Post.

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Free breakfast, lunch plan a hit in Virginia

More schools in Virginia are taking part in a special plan to fight child hunger, it was announced Tuesday. In a public statement the First Lady of Virginia, Dorothy McAuliffe, said there was a 139% increase in schools that provide free breakfast and lunch to all their students.

Read the full article at Examiner.

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Put Heart and Mind Into Zero Hunger

Most of us are thousands of miles away from the conflict zones of the world. We can’t physically see the unprecedented number of hungry war refugees.

Surely if you saw these starving people, you would feed them. Even though you cannot see them, let’s not allow them to be out of sight and out of mind.

See my full commentary at The Huffington Post

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Senator Brown supports Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) yesterday announced co-sponsorship of the Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act. This legislation would tackle the massive summer feeding crisis in America.

Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio is supporting the Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act

During the school year, low-income children receive free lunches from the federal government. However, when summer comes and schools are closed, these same children often miss out on that daily meal. There are a lack of feeding sites to make up for the school cafeterias being closed.

Senator Brown says, “Summer break shouldn’t mean a break from good nutrition. Summer meal programs provide the nutrition assistance for children that they would normally receive in school, ensuring their healthy development and easing the burden on their families.” The Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act, if given enough support, could be passed in the Child Nutrition legislation in the coming weeks.

According to Feeding America, 82% of children who receive the school lunches during the year do not get them during the summer. The summer months become a time when hunger escalates among children. The Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act aims to stop this.

One remedy the bill has put forward is providing needy families an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card during the summer months. This would provide 30 dollars a month per child so the family can purchase extra food to make up for the lost school lunches. This would help children who cannot get to summer feeding sites.

While there are efforts to increase the number of summer feeding sites, they cannot possibly make up the difference. According to Feeding America, there are 9 million low-income children who live in areas that are ineligible to have summer feeding sites. So clearly an EBT card would be vital to them.

Feeding America is calling on its supporters to contact their representatives in support of the bill. So far there has been bipartisan support. Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) have joined Brown in support of the Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act. An advocacy page has been set up by Feeding America.

Read the full article at Examiner.

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Helping Syrian refugee children with school meals

There is a silent crisis unfolding every day in Jordan and throughout the Middle East. It is another devastating effect of Syria’s civil war.

Syrian refugees are falling deeper into hunger. Children are suffering the most, being forced to work and beg to provide for their family.

Read the full article at The Jordan Times.

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My New York Times Letter on Syria Hunger Crisis

Cuts in food aid are leading Syrian refugees to take desperate measures.

This is a terrible situation for Syrian children to be forced to beg and work just to get a meal. But we can do something about it.

Please see my letter in today’s New York Times.

Also for historical perspective on fighting child hunger please see the video Ending Child Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World.

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New food project keeps things local in Haiti

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is starting a special two-year project aimed at helping Haiti build its agriculture. It was scheduled to start in May in the Nippes region.

Read the full article at Examiner.

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School Meals Win the Peace: From World War II to Today

The short film Ending Child Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. This short film takes you back to World War II era and into today.  See the video on YouTube.

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International School Meals Day: From the U.S., Central African Republic to Syria

On Thursday, March 5, we can all celebrate International School Meals Day. Food for education matters whether here in the United States or in lands far away.

Read the full article at The Huffington Post.

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