School Kids Eat Haitian Rice For Lunch
Two years after the earthquake, many Haitian schools are serving their children with food grown locally. Knowing they have a buyer, farmers are motivated to produce more food. Knowing they'll get good food, kids are keen to go to school - where they get the nutrition they need, plus an education. It's the virtuous circle at the heart of the strategy by the government and WFP to make Haitians more food secure.
Canada is one of WFP's main partners for the development of the school meals program in Haiti. In September 2010, Canada donated $20 million to the school meals program. The funds financed the purchase of food to be used in school kitchens in 2010 and 2011. Part of the donation was used to provide support for the development of Haiti's National School Meals Program. Money was also earmarked to purchase food locally, with the condition that the goods be procured from small-scale farmers.
The World Food Program, working under the direction of Haitian authorities, believes that this is the most effective way to stimulate local economies. Developing links between farmers and schools encourages the development of competitive markets, supports productivity and increases the producer's revenues.
To support that goal and to facilitate local purchases, WFP has put in place a series of measures. For example, the tender process was modified to allow small farmers associations to bid only for the quantities of food they can produce and training sessions were held to help farmers master every step of the tender process, from bidding to delivery.
"This is one of the government's priorities", said Michel Chancy, Secretary of State of Haiti on livestock production. "In this way, school canteens also generate income. The volume of these purchases is still relatively low, but we have set the trend and are determined to continue this policy of local procurement". By 2030, the National School Meals Programme aims to reach every student with daily meals cooked with local ingredients.
As part of the WFP's local purchases program, several thousand metric tons of rice and maize meal have been purchased from local producers since the earthquake. More than 800,000 bottles of milk purchased from small farmers have been distributed to schools in 2011. Over the next three years, WFP plans to buy four million additional bottles. (NOTE: the milk is purchased through a trust funded by the Brazilians)
Farmers in the countryside may be reluctant to produce more because they know that their isolation often makes access to markets difficult", said Myrta Kaulard, WFP Representative in Haiti.
On a recent visit to Haiti, George Stroumboulopoulos, WFP's Canadian Ambassador Against Hunger and his team visited a public school where children were just about to eat a hot meal. Every day across Haiti, WFP and its partners provide full meals to 1.1 million schoolchildrento school and ensuring they receive at least one nutritious meal every day.
“I am really impressed with the WFP developing strong links between local farmers and schools in Haiti,” George said. “It is good to know that Canada is involved in not only getting kids free meals in class but also that the food is coming from Haiti itself and that support is invaluable,” he added. Learn more
When George Stroumboulopoulos visited École Nationale de Tabarre, bags of rice produced in the South of Haiti and purchased with funds donated by Canada to be used in the school meals programme demonstrated how the Government's objective is already a reality in some of Haiti's schools.