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VIENTIANE - The U.S. Ambassador to Laos PDR, Daniel Clune, announced today that the U.S. government, through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), would support WFP's mid-morning snack and lunch programmes in Laos with US$27 million to assist more than 170,000 children over the next three years.
School meals provide children not only with food, but also with the vitamins and micro-nutrients necessary to help them concentrate on their lessons, rather than on their empty stomachs. The United States' contribution uses a holistic approach towards supporting childen in education in Laos. In addition to distribution of schools meals, support is also given to promote literacy, produce and distribute reading books, set up school gardens, support farmer groups and provide fuel efficient stoves.
The support from the United States, which will reach a total of 1,747 schools, will also strengthen the capacity of the Lao government to implement the recently-approved National School Lunch Policy, paving the way for a handover of WFP-assisted schools to the Ministry of Education and Sports.
"This contribution celebrates the partnership between the United States and Laos, and the commitment of the United States to nurture the children of Laos physically and mentally to help build tomorrow's citizens. By providing school meals, promoting literacy, and other activities, this donation will help boost school enrollment and academic performance," said U.S. Ambassador Dan Clune.
"This U.S. Government contribution for WFP's school meals programme is key to encouraging children into, and staying at, school. But beyond generosity, this donation represents a broader commitment and effort to ensure that 170,000 children from remote areas can access education and be assisted while at school. It's also an affirmation that the tools and support will be provided to run school meals programmes in future," said WFP Country Director in Laos Bradley Guerrant.
With this new donation, support from the United States to WFP activities in Laos over the past decade amounts to nearly US$53.8 million. The USDA is assisting four WFP school meals programmes in the Asia region: in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos and Nepal.
Distribution of nutritious food at school is an incentive for parents to send their children to school and for children to attend class. The food provided in school is usually enriched with vitamins and micro-nutrients, alleviating short-term hunger and improving children's concentration during lessons.
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WFP has provided food assistance in Laos since 1975 . The current Country Programme is based on a life cycle approach linking five different interventions of Emergency Preparedness and Response, Mother and Child Health and Nutrition (MCHN), School Meals, Livelihood Support and Food Fortification.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. In 2013, WFP assisted more than 80 million people in 75 countries.
About the McGovern-Dole Program: Through the McGovern-Dole Program, USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service works with private voluntary organizations and foreign governments worldwide to reduce hunger, and improve literacy and primary education, especially for girls. Approximately 28 million children in 37 countries have benefitted from the McGovern-Dole Program since it was established in 2002.
For more information please contact: Embassy of the United States of America Matthew Ference, Public Affairs Officer tel: +856 20 5551 1740
WFP Bradley Guerrant, Representative, WFP Laos tel:+856 21 330300 ext 2100 Silke Buhr, Regional Regional Communications Officer for Asia, WFP Bangkok Office +66(0)2-6598-616; Mobile +66(0)81-701-9208