Judith Schuler, WFP information officer in Ethiopia, provides us an update on where WFP's school meals program currently stands.
WFP is reaching 689,000 students currently. Do you hope to expand the program?
Currently WFP's "Food-for-Education" programme is operational in 1186 schools in six regions. Because of resource constraints, there is no plan to expand school meal programme at the moment.
A U.S. McGovern-Dole school meals grant is on the way to help children in Ethiopia as drought has struck again. Although school feeding has historically been a major aspect of U.S. foreign policy, the McGovern-Dole program may only receive $184 million in funding this year. (photo credit: WFP/Rein Skullerud)
What is the funding shortage that you are currently facing?
The funding requirement for 2012 is US$28.5 million and the shortfall for 2012 is about US$17.4 million.
Is the school feeding a lunch/breakfast ration? Is there a take home ration aspect?
The school meal is provided either as a breakfast or a mid-morning snack. But in schools where there are two shifts , the morning shift students receive the meal mid-morning and the afternoon shift students receive the meal at mid-day before they start classes in the afternoon. A take-home ration of vegetable oil is provided to girls to encourage attendance in the pastoralist areas of the country and where girls' attendance is lower due to economic and cultural reasons. Currently 127,000 girls in pastoral areas are benefitting from the programme.
It is critical that the U.S. and international community ensure that child feeding programs are provided during this time of great drought and conflict throughout East Africa (WFP photo)
What percentage of the school feeding is for refugees and what is for the population of Ethiopia?
The School Meal programme for refugees is a separate programme and is run as part of the Refugee Operation. Currently, 35,000 refugee children in all refugee camps benefit from the programme. The regular School Meal programme targets 3 percent of the primary school children in the country.