WFP and Bishkek City Hall Launch Meals in City Schools with Russian Federation Support

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On International School Meals Day, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the Kyrgyz Ministry of Education and Bishkek City Hall today launched a hot meals programme in city schools, thanks to valuable support from the Russian Federation and expertise from the Russian Social and Industrial Foodservice Institute (SIFI).

Thanks to the programme, more than 1,200 primary school students in Bishkek Gymnasium #64 will be enjoying freshly cooked hot meals every day. This school was chosen as the first city school to pilot the improved school meals model.

“It is important that children in city schools have access to high-quality meals, as they are essential for their development and their school performance,” said Vice Mayor of Bishkek Aigul Ryskulova. “Also, school meals are a key social safety net to vulnerable families, therefore, we will prioritize improving school feeding in Bishkek.”

Recognizing the success of WFP and the Kyrgyz Ministry of Education in reforming the national school meals programme for rural schools, Bishkek City Hall requested the design of a school meals improvement plan for city schools.

“We are impressed with the excellent results of enhancing schools meals in rural Kyrgyz schools, and we recognize the social and economic dividends that school meals bring for children, their families and entire communities,” continued Ryskulova.

WFP partnered with SIFI and the city administration to conduct a comprehensive assessment of school meals in Bishkek. The key findings of this assessment served as the basis for the design of the school meals improvement programme and the development of efficient school meals models for city schools.

With funding from the Russian Federation, WFP procured high-capacity industrial kitchen equipment for preparation of hot school meals.

“Developing a model for school lunches in Bishkek required designing new approaches and identifying new solutions. We needed to take into consideration the larger numbers of students in city schools, the state of infrastructure and other factors. In the end, we have found that we need to develop and adopt more than one approach for providing school meals across the Kyrgyz Republic,” said WFP Kyrgyz Republic Country Director Ram Saravanamuttu. “We will continue to work with the Bishkek City Hall, the Ministry of Education and the Social and Industrial Foodservice Institute to devise the optimal model for school meals.”

Over the coming months, WFP will lead the formulation of a plan to improve meals in city schools to enable an upgrade to high-quality nutritious meals. This will be done using funds that the Bishkek municipality has allocated for the project.

WFP launched a project in 2013 to introduce a model school meals programme to boost the country’s national school feeding programme that benefits around 400,000 primary school children. The project is its first year reached a little over 10,000 students and now over 85,350 primary school students in 330 rural schools across the country benefit from daily nutritious lunches. This achievement was possible thanks to consistent financial support from the Russian Federation, which contributed US$12 million to help improve the national school meals programme.  

“We see that Russian funding has resulted in fundamental improvements to the national school meals programme in the Kyrgyz Republic,” said Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Kyrgyz Republic Andrey Krutko. “School meals are a powerful tool to provide social and economic support for children and their families while enabling young generations to access their rights to healthy nutrition, education and development.”