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

UNCT-KG-WFP_japan schools

To signal a fresh start for the new academic year, 16 rural schools in Chui and Issyk-Kul provinces of the Kyrgyz Republic today launched a hot meals programme for 5,000 primary school students, thanks to the valuable contribution from the people of Japan and technical expertise from the UN World Food Programme. The Ambassador of Japan in the Kyrgyz Republic Yoshihiro Yamamura, WFP Deputy Country Director, representatives of the Kyrgyz Ministry of Education and Science as well as local authorities attended the first school lunch in Razdolnoe and Kudaiberdieva Schools.

The grant of 5.8 million Kyrgyz som (US$83,332) within Grassroots and Human Security Programme is used for the school meals optimization project, implemented by WFP in partnership with the Kyrgyz Ministry of Education and the Agency for Development Initiatives (ADI), a national non-governmental organization.

Thanks to these funds, the 16 rural schools were able to purchase high-capacity industrial kitchen equipment, including electric stoves, multi-deck ovens, dough-mixing machines, refrigerators, water boilers, washing troughs, vegetable peelers and cutters, kitchen racks and food preparation tables.

To complement the funding from Japan, WFP provided technical advice in designing and introducing improved school meals, conducted culinary training for school chefs and provided additional support to help improve water and electricity supplies at the 16 schools.

“Throughout the 100-year history of school meals in Japan, we have recognized the importance of educating healthy and productive generations. A ‘Gakko Kyushoku’, a school lunch, contributes to developing friendly communication skills, boosting intellectual curiosity while developing life-long healthy eating habits,” said Ambassador of Japan to the Kyrgyz Republic Yoshihiro Yamamura.

“We are proud to share our experience with the people of Kyrgyzstan and support 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,” added Ambassador.

Recognizing the success of the 16 pilot schools in introducing hot school meals, local authorities in Chui and Issyk-Kul provinces have created localized plans for improving school meals across the provinces. In doing so, local authorities would fully fund the canteen renovation and purchase of equipment for all schools in their respective provinces. It is expected that around 50 schools in Chui and Issyk-Kul oblasts could start providing hot nutritious lunches during this academic year.

“The broader replication of the WFP-designed models of school meals through the support of central government and local authorities is the strongest evidence of the efficiency of the WFP’s School Meals Optimization programme,” emphasized WFP Kyrgyz Republic Deputy Country Director Keiko Izushi. “A combined effort of donors, partners and the Kyrgyz government can ensure a long term and sustainable optimization of school meals in the Kyrgyz Republic.”

The WFP’s School Meals Optimization project, launched in 2013 to boost the country’s national school feeding programme, has now reached 90,000 primary school students in 334 pilot schools, almost four times the number of students in the project’s first year.  Thanks to donor support from Russian Federation, Japan and private sector, the number of schools shifting to hot meals is constantly increasing.