UN food agency launches push to feed 1 million Afghan schoolchildren

WFP Executive Director Catherine Bertini stressed that well-fed and educated children are key to Afghanistan’s future. “By providing food to the country’s poor students, we can make sure they are well nourished, are able to concentrate on their lessons and, most importantly, are given a new start in life,” she said. The school feeding project is central to WFP’s new nine-month, $285 million operation to provide immediate relief to millions of Afghans and to support longer-term rehabilitation and reconstruction in the country. Under the project, Afghan children will receive fortified bread, which the agency said would be critical in combating malnutrition and scurvy among Afghan children. Based on 40 years of experience feeding students in over 50 countries, the Rome-based agency said school meals serve to entice poor children to attend classes while enhancing performance and providing essential nutrients to help children grow. When school officially begins in Afghanistan later this week, Afghan girls will be allowed to attend for the first time in six years, exercising a right that was denied to them by Taliban edict. Hailing this progress, Ms. Bertini stressed that in order to improve Afghan society as a whole, “we need to involve and educate women, young and old.”

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