AS AFRICA CELEBRATES SCHOOL MEALS DAY, THE GAMBIA GOVERNMENT AND WFP HIGHLIGHT THE CRITICAL ROLE OF PARTNERSHIP

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

On the occasion of Africa School Meals Day, the Gambia Government through the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MOBSE) and the World Food Programme (WFP) highlight the important role of partnership in achieving a sustainable school meals programme.

The event is being celebrated for the second time, after the African Heads of

State gathered at the 26th African Union Summit in January 2016, passed a decision in support of school feeding, and established 1 March as the African Day of School Feeding.

In The Gambia, the Government, supported by WFP, UN agencies and development partners, work to integrate school meals as a national safety net into the national development plan for sustainable growth and empowerment.

“Government with other stakeholders will support the expansion of school feeding and strengthen the establishment of school canteens for improving the nutritional standards of school children”, said the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education in a statement on behalf of the Gambia Government.

This year’s theme: “Home Grown School Feeding: Investment in Youth and Children to Harnessing the Demographic Dividend,” is in line with the community-led approach where school meals are sourced locally from smallholders, to children in schools through the support of Ministry of Agriculture and FAO supported smallholders farmers associations.

“Partnership remains integral to harnessing joint effort towards a sustainable nationally led programme which addresses the health and nutrition needs of children while boosting smallholder production through commodity purchases,” said Angela Cespedes, WFP Representative and Country Director.

WFP in partnership with the Government is piloting Cash Based Transfers in schools where the provision of daily meals is led by Food Management Committees and key community members or caterers.  The initiative offer more flexibility to include local foods, improve diet diversity in schools and empower communities.

More than 100, 000 students in 368 schools in all six regions receive daily meals each year thanks to the Government of the Gambia and valuable support of donors such as the European Union, the Governments of Japan and the Republic of Korea.