CARACAS – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is expanding its school meals programme in Venezuela to reach more than 110,000 students and school staff in the northwest of the country, building on a pilot programme that started in July 2021 in the state of Falcón.
Extending school meals support beyond Falcón to the states of Barinas, Trujillo and Yaracuy, WFP will gradually increase the monthly food rations it distributes in 1,000 pre-primary and special education schools. The programme targets school children under the age of six in areas identified by WFP as most affected by food insecurity. The long-term goal is to provide meals in 11 Venezuelan states, reaching up to 1.5 million people by the end of the 2022-2023 school year.
“What the children receive today will have a positive effect on them for the rest of their lives,” said Marco Selva, WFP’s Deputy Country Director in Venezuela. “This expansion reaffirms our commitment to provide nutritious food to children at this critical stage, when their brains and bodies need it to reach their full potential.”
“We have received very positive feedback from parents in Falcón who, after several cycles of distribution, tell us that their children are livelier, putting on weight and eager to go to school,” Selva added.
In total, more than 156,000 WFP take-home rations have been collected at schools in the state of Falcón by parents or guardians on behalf of schoolchildren since July. The rations, which aim to cover the caloric requirements of young children for a month, consist of six kg of rice, four kg of lentils, one pound of iodized salt and one litre of vegetable oil.
The pilot phase in Falcón was carried out in coordination with school authorities and teachers, and in partnership with non-governmental organizations. WFP manages its own supply chain, from purchasing food to distributing rations in schools.
Preparations are underway for WFP’s rations to be provided to children in schools, as in-person classes have now resumed after being suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. WFP engineers are evaluating school kitchens and canteens to ensure that hot meals can be safely cooked and served on location.
WFP is grateful to international donors that have confirmed funding towards operations in Venezuela which will guarantee implementation of the programme until April 2022. WFP remains in conversation with potential donors to secure additional funding so that vulnerable Venezuelan children get a head start in life.