The UN World Food Programme will provide meals to 841,000 children in five COVID-19-hit African and Asian countries as their schools start to reopen, thanks to a US$119 million grant from the US Department of Agriculture, WFP said in a statement on Tuesday.
In many countries, school meals are the only food some children receive each day, so we are enormously grateful for USDA’s support,” says Jon Brause, the director of WFP’s Washington office.
WFP’s programmes in Cote d’Ivoire, Laos, Nepal and Rwanda are receiving US$25 million each, while WFP’s programme in Bangladesh will receive US$19 million, according to the statement.
The United States provides school meals funding through a competitive award process managed annually by USDA’s McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program.
The awards enable WFP to feed about 841,000 children under agreements lasting three to five years and will provide critical support for the five countries' governments until they can establish their own sustainable, national school feeding programmes.
McGovern-Dole has long been one of WFP’s largest funding sources for school feeding activities, including take-home rations when schools have closed due to Covid-19. Nearly 370 million children missed out on school meals so far this year, including 13 million receiving WFP ones.
“This support is yet another testament to the strength of WFP’s school feeding activities worldwide – and it comes at a critical time,” says Carmen Burbano, WFP’s Rome-based director of School Feeding.
WFP has school feeding programmes in 61 countries, which are a key social safety net for poor and vulnerable households. The UN agency provided school meals to 17.3 million schoolchildren and helped governments reach an additional 39 million children.
WFP won this year's Nobel peace prize for its efforts to fight hunger, helping improve conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for driving efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.