Last year I interviewed Allan Jury of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) about the Roadmap to End Global Hunger. He talked about how important school feeding was for children in Haiti. At that time Haiti was recovering from a hurricane, tropical storms, and high food prices.
To help families reeling from these shocks, WFP was providing 500,000 children in Haiti school meals. Even during holidays WFP ran the program. Jury said, "Keeping school feeding going not only ensured that children were assured at least one meal a day, but also provided one of the only sources of social stability during a time of upheaval and uncertainty."
Only months after the interview, the devastating earthquake struck in Haiti. But once again school feeding is making a return to help Haitian children. Natasha Scripture, a WFP information officer, says that school feeding will be restarting in Port-au-Prince within the next several days. Also in Leogane, WFP will begin providing school meals for 8,000 children in 23 schools.
In Gonaives school feeding has already been restarted. Jennifer Parmelee of WFP explains that in Gonaives, "there has been a 10 percent increase in primary school enrollment because of the outflow of people to the rural areas where they have extended family."
Yesterday WFP released a statement about its long-term strategy for helping Haiti, with school feeding being an integral part. Funding is, of course, critical for Haiti. Right now WFP has raised about 242 million dollars out of the 800 million it needs to provide the food aid.
Governments will need to step up and ensure the resources are provided. It would be devastating if, at some point this year, rations had to be cut in Haiti because not enough funding was secured.
The public, which has already donated millions of dollars through online and other fundraising venues, can continue to help Haiti. Speaking of school feeding, even a donation of one dollar can buy several school meals. All donations, no matter what the size, are significant. You can donate at the World Food Programme or Friends of the WFP websites.