More than 260,000 students in eight provinces have benefited from free school meals so far in the 2018-2019 academic year.
An Education Ministry statement yesterday said the government, with support from the UN World Food Programme and development partners, implemented the school feeding programme in 1,167 primary schools through which 260,000 children received breakfast, about 8,000 children got funds to buy food and about 5,000 people benefitted through the sale of community agricultural products for the students’ meals.
It added that this year, with additional funding from the government, the programme will be extended to six more provinces and cover 205 more primary schools and benefit 50,000 children.
Cambodia will begin hosting a five-day Global Child Nutrition Forum in Siem Reap province today to share experiences in the implementation, challenges and best practices of the school feeding programme with stakeholders from 60 countries.
The forum is organised by the ministry in collaboration with the World Food Programme Centre of Excellence against Hunger and Global Child Nutrition Foundation.
Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron will be among 380 senior government officials, including ministry officials, policymakers, researchers and development partners who will attend the forum.
Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha yesterday said that the Global Child Nutrition Forum this year is an opportunity for representatives of participating countries to share experiences on implementing school feeding programmes to strengthen the effectiveness of the practice.
He noted that participants will also discuss increasing government funding, incorporating the programme into national education systems and providing social protection through in-depth and sustainable policies.
Mr Soveacha added the school feeding programme provides funding for nutritious food for school children and also contributes to promoting enrollment, reducing truancy, and improving food security.
“Nutrition is important to support the lives of children and people of all ages,” he noted. “Without nutrition and quality education, there will be no quality of life.”
WFP country director Francesca Erdelmann, yesterday said that the forum is very important for Cambodia as well as the participating countries to learn from each other about the successes and challenges of implementing this school feeding programme.
She noted that the programme in Cambodia is aimed at helping children to receive adequate nutrition to be able to study, continue their education daily, as well as helping the communities where the children live to receive other benefits such as receiving income from selling agricultural products to prepare the breakfast and lunch for the children.
“Through this programme, we are very proud to see that Cambodian children receive nutritious food such as mixed vegetables, fish, and meat,” Ms Erdelmann said. “They are happy to receive these foods, and they also share knowledge of this nutrition to their family and community as well.”