In a recently published interview, Carlo Scaramella, World Food Program Country Director for El Salvador describes the efforts of that UN agency to work with the government to establish school feeding programs in the country:
How many children are benefiting from the WFP school feeding programs within [El Salvador]?
The transfer of the school feeding program to the El Salvador Government (Ministry of Education) was completed at the end of 2007 as part of an agreed plan between state authorities and WFP. The plan involved a gradual transfer of funding and operational responsibilities during the final years of WFP program administration. By the end of 2007, WFP handed the last two departments (Morazan and Auachapan) over to the state.
Meanwhile, the government was able to ensure the absorption of the school feeding program funding requirements under the regular state budget, providing long term sustainability for the program. Currently, about 750,000 children receive regular school feeding program support in the country.
Concurrent with the transfer of responsibility, WFP and the Ministry of Education have been developing a Memorandum of Understanding regarding continuing school feeding program collaboration in several areas, including procurement, logistics, programming, quality control, monitoring, and evaluation. This agreement, signed in February 2008, was particularly timely in allowing WFP to step up its collaboration with the Ministry of Education, among others, in strategic procurement at a time of rising food prices.
This allows us to mitigate the impact of rising prices on the implementation of the program. Additionally, WFP will support the extension of the program to another 100,000 students, as part of the government social protection strategy to combat the food price crisis. These initiatives are all being implemented through government funding, as part of the Memorandum of Understanding; and via a trust fund managed by WFP.
Discuss what effect the meals have on the children in terms of school attendance, performance, and nutrition.
The effects have been extremely positive. School feeding programs have increased school attendance and improved nutrition. The mainstreaming of an important social program is a significant achievement.
Such programs are an important step in helping children in poverty. But I've visited a number of schools in poor communities across El Salvador in recent years, and I can't say that I have seen evidence of these programs. Does someone have personal knowledge they can share about food programs in the schools?