Bangladesh expands school meal programme
The Government of Bangladesh has announced that it will expand a cooked school meal programme to reach 400,000 children in 2,000 schools across 16 sub-districts. The programme was successfully piloted by the World Food Programme (WFP).
The pilot, which started in 2013, gives school children fresh, hot school meals in Bamna and Islampur sub-districts. Locally-sourced fresh vegetables are included along with lentils and micronutrient-fortified rice and oil. The pilot has shown that these fresh meals are a cost-effective approach to combating micronutrient deficiency.
“We thank the Government for their initiative to transition from fortified biscuits to fresh, hot meals. Nutritious meals for school children have a high return on investment, as they improve children’s health and productivity throughout their life,” said Richard Ragan, WFP Representative and Country Director at a school meals policy consultation in Dhaka.
The expansion, funded by the Government of Bangladesh, represents a USD 20 million investment in the future health and productivity of these students. In addition, for the first time, the Government of Bangladesh will contribute USD 3.6 million to support WFP-implemented school feeding in impoverished schools in the country. This contribution will help WFP reach over 172,000 school children in 2019.
WFP’s efforts will complement the government-led School Feeding Programme in Poverty Prone Areas, which reaches over 2.7 million children per year. WFP provides technical assistance to this programme, with an aim to reach more children than ever before.
Micronutrient deficiencies present a huge challenge to Bangladesh, with economic losses to malnutrition estimated at USD 1 billion per year. Healthy, fresh, locally-sourced meals that provide adequate macro and micronutrients for school children are a major step towards ensuring a prosperous future for all Bangladeshis.