As the new school year is about to start on 9 September, 43,000 Haitian school children have one more thing to look forward to: hot meals prepared daily with fresh ingredients bought directly from local small-scale farmers.
Sine its launch in 2015, the World Food Programme (WFP)’s home-grown school feeding programme has been expanding every year. From an initial 3,500 children in 23 schools it has grown to 43,000 children in 193 schools located in the Nippes and Artibonite departments.
And it is not just the children that will benefit from it. “This is a win-win situation,” said WFP Country Director in Haiti, Pierre Honnorat. “On one hand, children are eating healthy meals made with fresh ingredients, and on the other, farmers have a predictable outlet to sell their products, leading to a stable income, more investments and higher productivity.”
A stable outlet for farmers
One of the main goals of the programme is to support local agricultural production. More than 2,200 farmers — 43 percent of whom are women — are delivering fresh produce to schools on a weekly basis. Dry products, such as rice and pulses, are delivered every month.
Last school year, WFP bought more than 700 metric tons (MT) of food from smallholder farmers, including 179 MT of rice, 149 MT of maize, 110 MT of peas, 58 MT of cabbage, 40 MT of eggplant, 35 MT of carrots and 140 MT of other vegetables and fruit.
A healthy diet for school children
The programme also aims to provide a healthy diet to children. By sourcing the products directly from nearby farms, WFP is able to include fresh ingredients on the menu, especially vegetables and fruit. This is essential to ensure children have all the vitamins and minerals they need for their development.
A project funded by Canada and Japan
The home-grown school feeding programme is implemented in coordination with the Ministry of Education, with the collaboration of a local NGO — Bureau de Nutrition et Développement (BND) — and two farmers’ associations –Ropanip and OFDAD. For the 2019–2020 school year, the project is funded by the Governments of Canada and Japan. In previous years, the programme has also been funded by the Brazilian and French Governments.