WFP works with the Ministry of Education and Russian Federation to boost school meals in Kyrgyz schools
BISHKEK – The UN World Food Programme and the Kyrgyz Ministry of Education and Science are expanding the Kyrgyz Republic’s school meals programme in the country’s poorest rural areas with financial and technical support from the Russian Federation.
The three-year project was launched in 2013 to boost the country’s national school feeding programme. By September 2015, more than 62,000 primary school students will receive a nutritious hot meal during the school day, almost six times the number of students in the project’s first year.
The project’s achievements were highlighted today during a press conference attended by the Minister of Education, Elvira Sarieva, the Russian Ambassador, Andrey Krutko, and WFP Country Director, Ram Saravanamuttu.
The Russian Federation contributes $US10 million to the country’s national school meals programme.
“School meals have proved to be as an effective, sustainable and cost-efficient way to utilise the existing government allocation of US$10 million per year,” said Sarieva. “Given the success of the programme, the government will support the replication of this model in all schools across the country and a recently endorsed school meals policy will help our efforts to improve school meals in the coming months.”
“There is no greater investment a country can make than in the welfare of its children,” he added.
The WFP pilot, “School Meals Optimisation”, was introduced to selected schools, in areas where people struggle to feed their families, nutritionally balanced meals.
It includes training for cooks, providing schools with kitchen equipment, renovating school canteens and helping schools establish vegetable gardens so schools can source their own fresh fruits and vegetables.
The project has so far received extensive community support with parents, communities and local authorities providing additional voluntary contributions to supplement contributions from the government and WFP. Local authorities in Kadamjay, Karakuldja, Kemin, Bakai-Ata and At-Bashy are providing additional funds for the renovation of schoolcanteens and the installation of equipment.
“High-quality school meals are essential and community support is the most powerful evidence that our approach is achieving the right results,” and high-quality school meals are very much needed,” said Saravanamuttu. “A recent analysis of the Kyrgyz school meals programme showed that for each dollar invested, the school meals programme generated two dollars in economic and social benefits.”
“The Russian Federation is proud to contribute to this innovative initiative to develop a sustainable school meals programme in the Kyrgyz Republic to improve access to education and at the same time promote economic growth,” said the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Kyrgyz Republic Andrey Krutko.
“Our work with the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic and World Food Programme will help children reach their full educational potential and build a brighter future for the next generation of the Kyrgyz nation.”
Since the start of WFP operations in the Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian Federation has contributed over US$40 million to support WFP’s activities aimed at improving food security, enhancing productive safety nets and optimizing school meals making it the single largest donor to WFP in the Kyrgyz Republic.