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School meals programme for over one million children

wfp | Friday, 5 September 2014 | Click here for original article

The worst drought in three decades is affecting much of Central America. In response, the Ministry of Education with support from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has stepped up distribution to ensure schools meals for 1,050,000 children. Rice, beans, vegetable oil, corn, cereal, flour and milk powder have been transported to 55 municipalities in the driest part of the country. Additional rations of fortified cereal were included in the delivery to ensure that children receive two cups of cereal a day. Ministry of Education’s Vice President, Norma Irías explained that …’if there is not enough food in their homes, the children are still receiving enough nutrients.’

María de Jesús Zeledón is a teacher in a rural school in Jinotega. Her students are the children of agricultural labourers. “School meals are imperative. It is the guarantee that they will receive a hot meal daily. When they do not eat they are unable to concentrate in the classroom, and they grow sad and weak,” she stated.

WFP representative, Helmut W. Rauch, praised the Nicaragua government’s efficient response to the crisis: “I want to give recognition to the Nicaraguan Government for anticipating the severity of the drought, and taking action. The WFP supplies were donated by Canada, Brazil and Australia.

The drought is hitting smallholder farmers, agricultural workers, and their families the hardest. The lack of rainfall has resulted in the loss of much of the harvest of basic grains. With water supplies drying up there are fears that advances in food security over recent years could be reversed.