The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) started this week, in close partnership with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE), distributing the first round of food assistance for vulnerable Lebanese and Syrian refugee schoolchildren and their families across Lebanon.
The food parcels replace traditional in-school meals children would otherwise be receiving as part of WFP’s nation-wide programme and as schools remain closed.
Due to the deterioration of the economic situation in Lebanon, WFP expanded its school feeding programme for the 2020-2021 academic year to reach 50,000 students in 81 schools – an increase by about 20,000 children compared to the last academic year. Distributions will include all students benefiting from WFP school feeding programme, even if their families were receiving other forms of assistance through WFP.
“In these difficult times the country is going through, the most vulnerable are the first to suffer. When families have less money for food and other necessities they tend to think of other alternatives that could include sending children to work,” said Country Director and Representative of WFP in Lebanon, Abdallah Al-Wardat. “By adapting our school feeding to COVID-19 restrictions, we are ensuring that children continue to get an education even remotely, that they are getting enough food and at the same time we are freeing up a family’s limited income so they can afford rent, medicine and other necessities.”
Families were invited to send one representative to collect the parcels in order to avoid crowding and ensure all COVID-19 safety measures are respected. The food parcel covers 40 percent of the daily food needs of a family of five for one month. It includes rice, pasta, burghul, lentils, beans, sunflower oil, sugar and salt. Carrying out the distributions are WFP’s cooperating partners, the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) and Development, Culture, Leadership (DCL) with full implementation of the necessary COVID-19 precautionary and safety measures.
“Lebanon’s multiple crises have affected thousands of families’ access to nutritious food,” said Director of Guidance and Counselling at the Ministry of Education and Higher Education Hilda Khoury. “This partnership with WFP is protecting children and helping families cope with the impact of the crises by sending food to their homes as learning modalities continue to change and adapt”.
This distribution was funded by the governments of Italy, Canada and Ireland and aims to help the most vulnerable school children and their families meet their food needs while preserving the linkages between families and schools to minimize dropouts once schools reopen. During this critical period, in addition to providing a shock-responsive safety net through distribution of family food parcels, WFP has rehabilitated six school kitchens to provide fresh meals to 5,000 children attending public schools once schools resume.
In June and July this year and following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent school closures, WFP distributed food parcels to 13,000 of the most vulnerable school children who benefit of WFP’s school feeding programme and their families.–WFP Lebanon
Source: National News Agency