World Food Programme and Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport Provide Food Support To 30,000 Families
30 August 2021
Phnom Penh – This week, the World Food Programme (WFP), in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS), began distributing family food parcels to 30,000 vulnerable households across Siem Reap, Oddar Meanchey, Kampong Thom, Kampong Chhnang and Pursat. The distribution will benefit some 150,000 people across the five provinces and take place each day from 30th August to 3rd September. The food parcels will benefit households holding IPoor equity cards and which usually participate in the WFP/MoEYS school meals programme.
This fifth round of food assistance comes as the Royal Government of Cambodia has confirmed its commitment to a new School Meals Coalition, to be launched as part of the Global Food Systems Summit in September 2021. This coalition sees governments, the United Nations, civil society, academia, philanthropy and the private sector joining together in recognition that school meals is a crucial element of food systems transformation which can help countries recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The initiative underscores the urgency to act now to protect the most vulnerable children from hunger and malnutrition leaving no one behind. Cambodia is one of the first 40 countries to sign up to this historic Coalition.
“Nutritious school meals increase students’ concentration spans and help them study more effectively, contributing to better educational outcomes,” said H.E HANG Chuon Naron, Minister of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport.
“Providing children with diverse, nutrient-rich foods through free school meals also motivates families to send and keep their children in school while easing their economic burden. This is why we signed up to join the School Meals Coalition, which demonstrates the Royal Government’s commitment to ensure that no child is left behind.”
For the past twenty years, the WFP-supported school meals programme has provided nutritious and healthy meals to primary school children in some of the poorest areas of Cambodia. Before the pandemic, the programme reached 223,000 children in 908 target schools in the five provinces. Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak and related school closures, children have missed out on the nutritious cooked breakfasts provided through the programme. This has particularly impacted children from the poorest families, many of whom also suffered from loss of income and livelihoods.
“WFP knows how important good nutrition is to young lives, which is why our team is working hard to make sure that these food packages reach vulnerable households where children could be at risk of not getting enough nutritious food,” said Claire Conan, WFP’s Country Director in Cambodia.
“Many households have been severely economically-impacted by the pandemic. This food distribution is designed to complement other social assistance schemes put in place by the Royal Government of Cambodia. We are deeply grateful to all our partners for their crucial role in providing this support to the vulnerable, especially MoEYS, the National Social Protection Council and our donors.”
This is the fifth round of food distributed to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable households. The distributions take place through school networks with support from Education Departments, school administrations, commune and village authorities, and NGO partners. WFP is also working closely with MoEYS and other partners to improve school infrastructure and facilities in preparation for a safe return to schools once they re-open.
The school feeding programme in Cambodia, including this special food distribution, is made possible by the generous support from the Governments of Cambodia, Japan, KOICA and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).