Last year I interviewed Lara Evans of World Vision about their school feeding program in Afghanistan. This was an initiative funded by the McGovern-Dole Food for Education program to provide school meals in the provinces of Badghis and Ghor.
Evans just provided the latest update. She writes, “We are still implementing the program. It continues to be very successful in getting students, particularly girls, to attend school.”
In addition to supporting school meals, the program supports literacy courses for women. Evans adds, “The adult female literacy classes have really taken off, with about 3,500 women now.”
World Vision hopes to expand the curriculum of its McGovern-Dole Afghanistan program to address life skills in the near future. Also, The United States Department of Agriculture announced last week it was including Afghanistan on the fast track list for Food for Education funding for 2011.
For Afghanistan to have peace and development, there has to be a vigorous effort to provide child feeding to boost nutrition and education. This is an area the Obama administration has to focus more on as part of its foreign policy toward Afghanistan and other nations as well, Iraq being one of those.
In Iraq, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) launched a school feeding program last year which reached 170,000 impoverished Iraqi children. The WFP board approved a plan to expand this school feeding to reach 900,000 children in April. Unfortunately, this is not going to happen for the time being.
Robin Lodge of WFP reports that, “We do not envisage any expansion of the pilot school feeding project before the end of the current school year in May. We will be carrying out preparatory work, identifying the schools to be assisted and training school staff and PTAs. Provided we get the necessary funding, we should be able to start the expanded programme at the beginning
of the next school year in late September / early October.”
There needs to be international cooperation to ensure that this WFP school feeding program receives enough funding and gets off the ground. This is vital for Iraq to reduce child hunger and malnutrition while boosting school attendance. Education is key for Iraqi children and their families to escape poverty.
President Obama’s global hunger envoy, assuming this position is filled soon, should work to ensure that child feeding programs in Iraq and other countries are able to go forward. President Obama and the Congress have not emphasized child feeding enough as part of U.S. foreign policy.
World Vision’s Robert Zachritz recently spoke before Congress urging more action to fight child hunger. Among his recommendations were expanding the McGovern-Dole Food for Education program as well as passage of the Roadmap to End Global Hunger, which would create the position of the President’s global hunger envoy.