The school feeding gives these children a very important meal, which includes rice, of about 700 calories. Providing food at school boosts attendance rates not to mention class performance. So two key areas of Ivory Coast's recovery are addressed with this program.
This free meal is of the utmost importance for so many impoverished families that lost so much during the conflict. Funding, though, is the critical issue going forward. WFP relies on voluntary donations from the international community. Food to reinforce peace depends on keeping the donor pipeline moving.
WFP says that the Ivory Coast school feeding program is only 11 percent funded. The program can run for the time being. However, by April supplies will be needed to maintain the school feeding. Donations now are critical because it can take several months for a donation to translate into delivered food. If no action is taken there is the the risk of children facing reduced rations or even losing their school meal come spring. This would impact the recovery process and the health and education of children.
As Clinton said while in the Ivory Coast, "Families need good schools to send their children to attend, everyone needs good healthcare, and I am very hopeful that the president’s agenda will help revitalize this dynamic, very important country at a time when we all need to do more to set a positive vision for the future."
School meals are a vital building block for this vision. So it's important that this program be supported and evolve into a national school feeding program for the Ivory Coast. Such a vision need not be too far off in the future, if the will exists now.