WFP launches school meals programme in Venezuela

  CARACAS –  The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) started its school meals programme in Venezuela this week, with the first distributions of take-home food rations to children enrolled in 277 pre-primary schools and to their schools’ staff in all municipalities in the state of Falcón.

  School children under the age of six, in areas identified by WFP as the most affected by food insecurity, are at the centre of its programme that will progressively expand to other Venezuelan states to reach 185,000 people by the end of this year, 850,000 by the end of the 2021-2022 school year, and 1.5 million by the end of the 2022-2023 school year.

  “We are reaching these vulnerable children at a critical stage of their lives when their brains and bodies need nutritious food to develop to their full potential,” said Susana Rico, WFP Representative a.i. in Venezuela, during the first distribution on Tuesday at the Antonio Dolores school, in the town of Coro. “Schools like this are more than just a place to learn, they are a pillar of the community and offer a golden opportunity to provide small children with what they need to help them thrive.”  

  Parents or guardians collect the take-home rations on behalf of their children from the schools where they are enrolled. The monthly ration for each child under the age of six is made up of 6 kg of rice, 4 kg of lentils, 1 pound of iodized salt and 1 litre of vegetable oil. Once pre-primary schools reopen, WFP will help rehabilitate canteens and train staff in food safety practices to start serving nutritious hot meals. Schools are currently closed in Venezuela due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

  WFP started its school meals programme just over two months after signing an agreement in April 2021 with the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela whereby WFP can establish a presence in the country and commence its humanitarian operation.

  For the implementation of its school meals programme, WFP is managing its own supply chain, from purchasing food to distributing it in schools. The programme is carried out in coordination with school authorities and teachers, and in partnership with local non-governmental organizations.

  WFP is grateful to the international donors who have confirmed funding or made pledges for nearly US$ 30 million, that will guarantee the implementation of its operations in Venezuela until the end of the year. As a voluntarily funded humanitarian organization, WFP remains in conversations with potential donors to secure additional funding to ensure that vulnerable Venezuelan children have a head start in life.