Josette Sheeran, head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), says she envisions "a day when the people of Afghanistan are feeding themselves and when our school meals program is supplied with wheat grown in Afghanistan."
WFP, with the help of Canada, has established several biscuit factories which employ Afghan women. The factories, using local wheat, produce some of the biscuits for the school feeding program for Afghan children. There are 1.6 million Afghan children receiving high energy biscuits as part of the WFP school feeding initiative.
WFP Afghanistan spokesperson Challiss McDonough also reports on a new "pilot programme providing children with a nutritious hot meal at school every day." There are 604,000 children who also receive wheat take-home rations.
(WFP photo: take-home rations for an Afghan family)
These vital child feeding programs need to receive enough funding so they can be sustained and also expanded. WFP will need more funding to launch a new Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation scheduled to start in January 2010.
The Obama Administration should make the fight against hunger a key part of its Afghanistan strategy. This means school feeding with take-home rations for all Afghan children, grain reserves to meet food emergencies, and increasing local agricultural production.
The passage of the Roadmap to End Global Hunger legislation by Congress is also critical because it would create a White House office to tackle these complex issues.
For some historical background, please see my Chicago Sun-Times piece, "Let's Feed Afghan Democracy."