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Interview: Salman Omer of the World Food Programme in Yemen

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The country of Yemen borders Saudi Arabia and Oman. It is one of the world’s least developed countries. According to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) “over 40 percent of the country’s 19.7 million people struggle to live on less than US$2 per day.”

Food for Education is one of the critical programs WFP operates in Yemen. Lets look at school feeding in this interview with Salman Omer, Deputy Country Director for WFP in Yemen.

How many children benefit from WFP school feeding programs in Yemen?

A key goal of WFP’s five-year country program is to support more than 114,639 schoolgirls enrolled in some 1,300 schools, in the most food insecure areas of the country.

Discuss what effect school feeding has on the children in terms of school attendance, performance, and nutrition.

In Yemen, WFP provides a dry “take home” ration to the schoolgirls and their families. The food rations have a very positive impact on girls’ enrollment, which increased 40% on average in the targeted areas. It also reduces girls’ dropout rates.

What plans are there for making school meals available for all children?

WFP’s Country Office is encouraging the government to offer a meal at school for all children – at least in the most food-insecure areas.

What would be the sources of funding for any expansion of the school feeding program?

WFP and the Government of Yemen.

What has been the effect of rising food prices in this funding effort?

Due to rising prices of food, 80% of the girls we supported failed to receive their full food rations in 2008.

How can someone help the school feeding program?

Advocate for school feeding with donors, and highlight the many success stories of people who were enrolled in WFP’s school feeding interventions.

Is there anything else you’d like to add about why you think school feeding is important for people to support?

School feeding is one of the most important programs we run. In some countries, students attend school solely because there is a food incentive. That in turn leads to an education.

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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.