On World Milk Day, WFP counts how much milk it has helped put on people’s shelves
In Lebanon, there’s plenty of milk produced. The dairy industry is huge. And, thanks to the World Food Programme (WFP), it’s a staple on shelves in homes, schools and shops across the country supporting the sustainability of the dairy sector, economic development, livelihoods and nutrition.
WFP’s expansive food assistance programme in Lebanon is largely cash-based; this means that the people we serve receive credit on e-cards they use to buy food in contracted shops. They have freedom and choice to buy what they need whenever they need it and this includes giving them access to fresh produce and dairy products.
When buying milk is an investment
Thanks to a retail team supporting the 450 shops, WFP has a wealth of shopping data at its fingertips. This data tells us that milk is the third most-purchased item in our shops. We even know that since 2016, when we started collecting sales data, Lebanese families receiving our cash have made precisely 60,966 separate milk purchases while Syrian refugee families have made 1,554,453. That is a lot of milk. Those purchases total US$10.2 million.
Milk on the go
But in addition to those shop purchases, WFP has been handing out milk to Lebanese and Syrian primary school children since 2017. With the ambition of increasing enrollment and attendance in school, WFP partnered with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to distribute daily nutritious, locally-produced snack packs to 24,000 children. This daily pack includes a carton of Lebanese milk.
Since that programme began, WFP has distributed 458 tonnes of milk to children throughout Lebanon. “That’s a lot of milk,” says Soha Moussa, WFP Lebanon’s Programme Policy Officer for school meals and nutrition. “And, I hope it’s making a difference supporting the health and growth of children who will lead this region in the future.”
Supporting micro projects
Milk is not only consumed in its original form in WFP projects though. In Lebanon’s agricultural heartland, the Bekaa Valley, women are taking classes in dairy production. WFP designed these livelihood courses to give new opportunities to women seeking employment in the agriculture sector and range from milking a cow to straining curds through muslin.
“I used to eat cheese without a thought where it came from,” explained Awatef, one of the course participants. “Now I know how to make cheese myself and how to market it.”
Throughout nature, nutrient-packed milk is passed from mother to child for nourishment. WFP’s parental role in Lebanon includes but goes beyond children to include all vulnerable populations of any age. The future #ZeroHunger goal depends on a multi-faceted approach, not just on food distributions. That is why WFP, the world’s leading organisation providing food assistance, is prioritising nutritious programming in its work.