Feeding children — feeding dreams!
The Earth Group visits school meals programme in Tajikistan
Early one Thursday morning in May 2017, Matt Moreau and Kori Chilibeck, the founders of the Canadian Earth Group, landed in mountainous Tajikistan for the first time to visit the school meals programme that they support in the country.
The World Food Programme (WFP) in Tajikistan hosted a five-day visit to Muminabad (in the south) and Dushanbe from delegates of the Earth Group — a Canadian organization that raises money for school meals.
Muminabad is one of 52 districts in Tajikistan where WFP provides school meals. These meals consist of bread made with fortified wheat flour and a soup made with pulses, enriched oil, iodized salt and vegetables. WFP has been providing school meals in Muminabad thanks to the support of the Earth Group since November 2016. With their continuing contribution, in 2017 WFP will be able to provide more than 400,000 school meals across Tajikistan. It is noteworthy that the Earth Group contribution has enabled WFP to purchase food commodities locally for the school meals programme in Muminabad, helping to connect smallholder farmers to market and promotes the production of crops with high nutritional value, which contributes to improving the quality of school meals.
Serving up hope
The Earth Group exists entirely to provide food, water, and education to children. The group sells tea, coffee and water across the world donating 100 percent of its profits to fund WFP school meals programmes. The group strives to create positive change in the lives of people who live in dire circumstances.
“Our visit to the school meals programme will ensure that we can communicate to our community back home that our donations are going exactly where we say they are going,” said Matt Moreau, one of the founders of the Earth Group. “The children were well fed and enjoying themselves at school, and this gives us the confidence that we are supporting the right programme, and that WFP is the right organization to be partnered with. We are proud to announce our continued support for WFP in Tajikistan.”
The visitors were able to view the improvements made in the school kitchens and canteens and had a chance to sample the fresh lunches provided daily at school. They also met with school staff, students and parents to hear their stories and assess the impact of the programme on their lives.
School meals programme — feeding the minds and souls
WFP’s school meals programme has played an important role for thousands of school children since 1999, increasing enrolment and boosting attendance rates. Today, the programme complements the government-owned social safety nets by providing daily nutritious school meals in selected areas.
When the school meals programme started in Tajilistanin 1999, it benefited just 5,000 children. Now it provides daily hot lunches to 384,000 school children in over 2,000 schools in rural Tajikistan, which represents more than 50 percent of schools in the country.
The cost of one daily hot nutritious meal is US$ 38 per year per student — a small investment considering the significant long-term benefits of a better educated population. With an average of two children per family benefiting from WFP’s school meals programme, families can save more than US$ 50 per year on household food expenditures.
Partnership — a key to success
WFP cooperates closely with, amongst others, local authorities, the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, the Ministry of Education and Russian NGO Social and Industrial Food Service Institute. The programme purchases locally produced pulses from smallholder farmers, which in the long run contributes to the development of the country. WFP’s school meals programme is funded mainly by the Russian Federation and the Earth Group.
To ensure the future development and sustainability of the programme, WFP sponsored the adoption of the concept for development of a National School Meals Programme policy by the Government of Tajikistan, which was signed into law by the President in February 2015. In the framework of this policy, a strategy on the sustainable development of school meals by the government is being finalized.
The upcoming National School Meals Programme will comprise a detailed plan for the Government to incrementally assume full responsibility over the school meals programme by 2021.
Learn more about WFP’s work in Tajikistan.