School meals, which fight child hunger and boost education, may soon begin to vanish in Sudan. Huge funding shortfalls for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are threatening all its operations in Sudan, including school feeding.
For 2010, WFP is planning to reach 1.5 million children in Sudan with school meals. However, Marian Yun of WFP told me that "the Sudan operation is facing major shortfalls that might prohibit this expansion as planned. We are in the process of re-prioritizing what we can do given the funding we have so far received, which is sufficient to take us through until August when we run out of food and resources."
I asked about funding from the U.S. McGovern-Dole Global School Lunch Program. Yun explained that "Sudan isn't eligible for McGovern Dole"…and is "no longer eligible for USAID/Food for PeaceTitle II funding (new development as of 2010) which makes the expansion rather ambitious."
Low funding for WFP may doom school feeding programs in Sudan (WFP/Carla Lacerda)
McGovern-Dole and Food for Peace do not receive much funding from Congress, so these programs have limited reach. This illustrates that fighting child hunger is just not a priority in American foreign policy right now. This has to change, and quickly.
School feeding not only tackles child hunger but encourages class attendance. Many children in developing countries struggle just to get one meal a day. Providing a meal or two at school is a huge safety net for families, and encourages them to send their children to school. Once the children are in school, the meals improve their classroom performance.
In Sudan, a country plagued by conflict, school feeding is one of the foundations for stability and reconstruction. Children are given the chance to get the education they need to have a future. Simply put, all children in Sudan must be able to receive school meals or other child feeding programs.
To get involved and help school feeding and other food programs in Sudan, please contact the Friends of the World Food Programme.