US$33 Million USDA Investment to Enhance School Nutrition in Haiti through WFP Initiative
PORT-AU-PRINCE – A significant stride in improving education and nutrition for students in Haiti has been marked with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) set to deliver hot school meals to around 75,000 pre-primary and primary students in the Nord and Nord-Est Departments. The initiative, funded by a US$33 million investment from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), aims to enhance education outcomes and nutritional well-being.
Under the U.S. Department of Agriculture McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, the agreement signifies a collaborative effort between WFP, the Haitian Ministry of Education, and the USDA. The program, set to run until 2028, builds upon the success of a previous McGovern-Dole project that provided school meals to approximately 100,000 students in Nord, Norde, and Grand’Anse Department from 2020 to 2023.
The focus of the initiative is to increase school enrollment and retention, improve literacy among school-age children, and elevate the quality of instruction in classrooms. WFP, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, will work with local producers and food processors to ensure a combination of traditional and home-grown school meals. Approximately 5,610 metric tons of U.S. donated commodities, including vegetable oil, rice, beans, lentils, and bulgur, will be utilized, along with 2,263 metric tons of Haitian-grown commodities, locally purchased.
Jean-Martin Bauer, WFP Country Director in Haiti, emphasizes the importance of an incremental shift to local production, stating, “With this project, WFP will build the capacity of producers in the Nord and Nord-Est departments, which is a win-win scenario for both the smallholder farmers and students benefiting from the meals.”
The initiative extends beyond providing meals, incorporating comprehensive community engagement. Through support to parent-teacher associations, establishment of community savings and loans committees, and activities promoting nutrition knowledge and hygiene practices, the project aims to create a holistic learning and healthy environment for students.
Additionally, the project includes literacy and teacher training, hygiene training, distribution of hygiene kits, and infrastructure improvements such as handwashing stations and latrine refurbishments. The USDA McGovern-Dole program, which supports school meals and education and nutrition programs globally, aligns with the overarching goal of boosting school enrollment, increasing attendance, and improving literacy outcomes.
As the project unfolds, WFP and its partners are poised to make a meaningful impact on education, nutrition, and community development in Haiti, exemplifying the collaborative efforts required to address multifaceted challenges faced by vulnerable populations.