For over two decades, the United States has supported the national school feeding programmes in Bangladesh through the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program. Their financial support, together with WFP’s technical assistance, has been critical to the success achieved through the national school feeding programme. Today, USDA supports about 42,000 Bangladeshi students in 140 government primary schools in two sub-districts of Cox’s Bazar.
With the provision of nutritious and tasty fortified biscuits as morning snacks, complemented by teacher training, and relevant education and nutrition support, millions of children’s lives have changed for the better thanks to improved health, nutrition and learning outcomes. Since 2010, school enrollment and attendance has increased and students’ reading and writing proficiency improved under the national school feeding programme.
This week, experts from USDA, including Richard Higgins, Stephanie Gaffney, along with their colleagues are in Bangladesh to see impact of USDA’s support. They will visit school feeding activities implemented by WFP in Cox’s Bazar, Ukhiya, WFP’s warehousein Chattogram, and a biscuit production factory in Khulna.
“By providing school meals, teacher training, and related education and nutrition support, the McGovern-Dole project has helped boost school enrollment, increaseattendance, and improve reading outcomes and literacy results,” said Richard Higgins. “WFP has helped to bring our vision into fruition and we look forward to furthering our fruitful partnership”
“School feeding is more than just filling the empty stomachs of hungry children. It is a sound strategy to combat child hunger and poor nutrition, promoting good eating habits among children and improving livelihood opportunities for their communities,” said Dom Scalpelli, Country Director, WFP Bangladesh. “We are thankful to USDA for its longstanding partnership and generous support, which has been critical to WFP and our assistance to the Government of Bangladesh in their efforts to continuing expanding school feeding to reach more children,” he added.
The visit of the USDA comes at a time as the Government plans the country’s next national school feeding programme. In July, Bangladesh became a member of the International School Meal Coalition (SMC) when the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh made the commitment during the UN Food Systems Summit +2 Stocktaking Moment in Rome.
Support from USDA remainscritical to the successful roll-out of the new school feeding programme, from development, testing and scale up of the systems and structures for the newmodality.National School FeedingProgrammewill significantly contribute towards the development of children, the future of Bangladesh.