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Got Milk? Haiti’s Farmers and Now Schools Do

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There was once an episode of the hit TV series, The Waltons, where the family was approached by a contractor seeking a huge lumber order. The Walton family mill could not provide the order by itself. But by combining forces with other mills in their area, they could. Strength in numbers.

That is essentially what is starting to happen in Haiti with small dairy farms, except there is no John-Boy Walton.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) kicked off a project in which small Haitian dairy farmers, by combining forces, can provide milk for the country’s school feeding program.

WFP’s David Orr recently reported on the story of Jean Claude Belizaire, a dairy farmer with 10 cows outside Port-au-Prince. Belizaire collects milk from his own farm as well as others in his area. He brings it to a local dairy and before you know it, a sizable amount is available to supply schools.

The government of Brazil made a donation recently to allow WFP to purchase this milk from the farmers. The milk is then delivered by WFP to the schools. Right now 17,700 children in Haiti are receiving two bottles of milk a week at school, in addition to their regular meal.

World Food Programme Haiti

Milk is now being added to the school feeding program in Haiti (WFP/David Orr)

Jean Claude says, “This is a great way for small producers like me to do business. It’s been a very hard year but at least dairy farmers around here have a secure market for their milk.”

This is the goal in Haiti: Help local producers and allow them to feed their country. In the case of school feeding, the next step is expansion, and David Orr reports there are plenty more dairy farmers available to get involved.

Produced by local dairy farms, this milk is sent fresh to schools on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince as part of WFP’s school meals programme in Haiti. (WFP/David Orr)

It’s obviously a great development for local producers in Haiti, but also critical for the education system. Having milk at the school strengthens the nutrition program and is vital for improving children’s attendance and performance. That is what school feeding does and why every country needs a national program. You can see a ripple effect.

In Haiti, the World Food Programme is trying to help build that national school meal program in conjunction with the government. Right now, WFP is feeding about 800,000 children while the government and other aid agencies are reaching about 300,000 with school meals.

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About William Lambers

William Lambers is the author of several books including Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. This book features over 50 interviews with officials from the UN World Food Programme and other charities discussing school feeding programs that fight child hunger. He is also the author of Nuclear Weapons, The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Open Skies for Peace, The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger, School Lunches for Kids Around the World, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, From War to Peace and the Battle of Britain. He is also a writer for the History News Service. His articles have been published by newspapers including the Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Buffalo News, San Diego Union Tribune, the Providence Journal, Free Lance-Star (VA), the Bakersfield Californian, the Washington Post, Miami Herald (FL), Chicago Sun-Times, the Patriot Ledger (MA), Charleston Sunday Gazette Mail (WV), the Cincinnati Post, Salt Lake Tribune (UT), North Adams Transcript (MA), Wichita Eagle (KS), Monterey Herald (CA), Athens Banner-Herald (GA) and the Duluth News Journal. His articles also appear on History News Network (HNN) and Think Africa Press. Mr. Lambers is a graduate of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio with degrees in Liberal Arts (BA) and Organizational Leadership (MS). He is also a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.