TANZANIA has signed an International Meals Coalition with the World Food Programme (WFP) which seeks to have a healthy meal for every child in primary and secondary schools in the country.
The signing ceremony was done at Dodoma’s Chief Mazengo Primary School by WFP’s Country Director, Sarah Gordon-Gibson and Deputy Minister for Education, Science and Technology, Omary Kipanga.
According to Ms Gibson, investing in children was one of the best investments that WFP wanted in the future of the country, adding that school feeding was one of the best ways to achieve the ambition.
“On behalf of the World Food Programme, I wish to commend the government and particularly the Ministry for adopting the National Guidelines on School Feeding and Nutrition Services to Basic Education Students,’’ she said adding:
“This is a major achievement, and I am very pleased that since then we have been working very closely together on an implementation plan, which hopefully will be launched by the end of the year. For the national guidelines as for the implementation plan, WFP has been providing financial and technical support.”
School feeding programmes do more than providing food, they support local agriculture and markets while improving health, nutrition and education, making communities more resilient.
They also promote gender equity, helping to attract and keep girls in school. They rely on households and communities, leading to more sustainable food and agriculture as well as creation of local jobs, thus boosting economic growth.
Speaking at the signing event, the Deputy Minister in the ministry said that by signing the documents, Tanzania was now becoming the 60th country to put pen to paper on the coalition as 59 countries from across the world had done so.
In Africa, according to Mr Kipanga, only 26 countries had signed the deal, meaning Tanzania is now becoming the 27th country in the continent, saying that 26 countries had already signed the document.
The School Meals Coalition is an emerging initiative of governments and a wide range of partners to drive actions that can urgently re-establish, improve and scale up food and education systems, support pandemic recovery and drive actions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to WFP’s country Director, the Coalition will support governments and their partners to improve or restore national, sustainable school meal programmes, and strive for every child to have the opportunity to receive a healthy, nutritious meal in school by 2030.
The coalition was set up during the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit and is made up of 67 countries and 68 partners. It is led by its founding member states and supported by a secretariat powered by WFP.
It aims to assist governments and their partners to improve the quality of school meals and strengthen school meal systems, in a manner which is tailored to local contexts, and which promotes the sharing of knowledge and best practices.
According to Ms Gibson, every child had the opportunity to grow, learn and thrive. She said in the past, WFP supported the school feeding programme for many years, expressing the renewed commitment to working with Tanzania.
The WFP boss commended the government and particularly the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology for adopting the National Guidelines on School Feeding and Nutrition Services to Basic Education Students.