The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) are providing US$400,000 (Rs.74 million) to the Ministry of Education (MoE) towards the National School Meal Programme. 80,000 primary school children will receive one month’s worth of food rations to help them and their families cope with the school closures due to COVID-19, a statement said.
The contribution is reflective of the long-standing partnership between WFP and the Sri Lankan Government and WFP’s continued support for the country’s flagship National School Meal Programme since 2003. It will enable the Ministry of Education to commence the first phase of the take-home ration programme, while further resources are mobilized by MoE to expand the programme.
“The generous funding contribution from the Government of Australia is very timely,” says Brenda Barton, WFP Country Director in Sri Lanka. “Already, 40% of all primary school-aged children are too thin. For many children, the meal they get in school is often the only meal they will get in a day. Take-home food rations will be key to help safeguard children’s health and nutrition during this difficult time when the country is battling COVID.”
The packages comprise eggs, lentils and other dry commodities specified by the MoE, to ensure diet diversity for children and their families. Distribution will start later this month to children at schools identified by the MoE in the Central, Uva, Northern and Eastern Provinces. After this initial phase, the take-home rations will subsequently be extended by the MoE to all schools covered by the National School Meal Programme.
“The Government’s decision to close schools within 48 hours of Sri Lanka’s first COVID-19 case, was integral in preventing the spread of the virus” says the Minister of Education and Sports Dullas Alahapperuma. “We recognise the importance of sustaining the National School Meal Programme amidst these school closures. We are thankful to WFP and the Government of Australia for providing us with funds to supply take-home rations to children covered by the School Meal Programme.”
(WFP) and Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) are providing US$400,000 (Rs.74 million) to the Ministry of Education (MoE)