WFP and Japan Partner to Expand Hot School Meals Programme In Kyrgyz Republic

UNCT-KG-WFP-JPN grant for school meals

The Government of Japan has contributed 5.8 million Kyrgyz som (roughly US$83,000) to help provide daily hot meals to more than 5,000 primary school students in 16 rural schools in the Chui and Issyk-Kul provinces of the Kyrgyz Republic.

The funds will be used to purchase over 300 units of high-capacity industrial kitchen equipment, including electric stoves, multi-deck ovens, dough-mixing machines, refrigerators, water boilers and other kitchenware.

“Inspired by the Japanese Shokuiku tradition, a food education concept, we can help Kyrgyz children acquire lifelong healthy eating habits through school meals, which is a foundation for their strong health and development,” said Japan’s Ambassador to Bishkek Yoshihiro Yamamura. “We are proud to be supporting the efforts of the Kyrgyz Ministry of Education and WFP to improve the quality of school meals in the country and set a path to educate new healthy generations.”

With financial support from the people of Japan, improving school meals in the Kyrgyz Republic is a joint effort by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the Kyrgyz Government, and the Alliance of Development Initiatives (ADI), a national non-governmental organization.

The contribution was confirmed today during a signing ceremony attended by Ambassador Yamamura, the Deputy Minister of Education Salidin Kaldybaev, WFP Kyrgyz Republic Country Director Ram Saravanamuttu and ADI Director Aida Jamangulova.

“The Ministry of Education welcomes the contribution from Japan, which enables us to increase the number of rural schools providing nutritious hot meals,” said Deputy Minister of Education Salidin Kaldybaev. “We are confident that our collective efforts will support an incremental shift to hot meals across all schools in the Kyrgyz Republic.”

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. Entitled “School Meals Optimisation,” the project was introduced to schools in areas where people struggle to feed their families. The project introduced nutritionally balanced meals in select schools by training cooks, providing kitchen equipment, and renovating canteens and water and sanitary facilities. The project also worked with schools to develop vegetable gardens as a source of fresh produce to diversify the school meals with nutritious fruits and vegetables.

“Securing funding from Japan highlights the impact of the school meals optimization effort and the need for high-quality school meals,” remarked WFP Country Director Ram Saravanamuttu. “The WFP-led school meals optimization project currently covers 330 rural schools across the Kyrgyz Republic. However, many more schools outside the project are keen to introduce the improved model of school meals. Additional funding enables the programme to expand and reach more children with daily nutritious lunches.”

To complement the funding from Japan, WFP is contributing tailored plans to ensure the most efficient use of space in each school, improve purchasing practices, provide training for school chefs, renovate school canteens and design improved menus. WFP has also provided additional support to help improve water and electricity supplies at these 16 schools.

ADI, WFP’s long-standing partner in school meals optimization, has been assigned the implementing agency to manage preparatory work in the 16 schools.

“We have been partnering with WFP and the Ministry of Education for several years now and we see firsthand the results that are brought about by the improved school meals,” said ADI Director Aida Jamangulova. “We are proud that the Embassy of Japan has entrusted us to support the introduction of the WFP-designed school meals model in selected schools.”

The School Meals Optimisation project reaches over 85,000 primary school students in the Kyrgyz Republic. Thanks to donor support, the number of schools shifting to hot meals is constantly increasing. Additionally, support from central and local governments has ensured that the WFP-designed model of school meals have been successfully introduced to rural schools.