The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says it is providing take-home rations to 5,000 pre-primary and primary school children and their household members.
The rations comprising of rice, fortified vegetable oil, and pulses are intended to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the students and their families. This assistance was made possible thanks to a contribution of 200,000 CAD (US$ 150,000) by the Government of Canada’s Fund for Local Initiative Program (CFLI) to WFP in Liberia.
“WFP is very grateful to the Government and people of Canada for their support to the school children in Liberia,” said Karla Hershey, the WFP Representative and Country Director in Liberia. “This support will also raise awareness about the importance of improving girls’ access to education in the country and help to ensure that the next generation in Liberia reaches its full potential.”
Studies show it is more difficult for children to learn without adequate food and nutrition. Many families in Liberia put their children to work or keep them at home rather than send them to school. However, a daily nutritious school meal is a strong incentive to enrol children in school and keep them there.
WFP provides school feeding as a critical intervention for improving the enrolment and learning status of children. The take-home rations play a vital role of enabling the whole family to receive nutritious food support while encouraging their children’s attendance.
WFP prioritized school feeding in Maryland Country due to high rates of food insecurity and childhood malnutrition. Up to 25 percent of children under five years of age suffer from chronic malnutrition in Maryland County, according to the Liberia Demographic and Health Survey 2019-2020. The situation is exacerbated by measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, including movement restrictions.
The school meals provided by WFP through support by Canada aim to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 socio-economic shocks on vulnerable girls and boys and their families.