The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) received a generous €1 million contribution from the Italian Cooperation in support of its school meals program. As schools remain closed in Lebanon, WFP is providing monthly assistance in the form of food parcels for nearly 133,000 vulnerable people.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, schools in Lebanon have been closed since 29 February 2020. Upon consultation with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE), WFP adjusted its school meals programme to providing monthly family food parcels. This replaces traditional daily in-school snacks and ensures that children and their families continue to get access to food, which frees up families’ limited income so they can afford necessities.
“We are very grateful for the people and Government of Italy for this generous contribution which supported us in doubling the number of people we reached since last December,” says Abdallah Al-Wardat, WFP Representative and Country Director in Lebanon. “It comes at a time when COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, as well as the major economic crisis in Lebanon, have led to soaring food prices, placing vulnerable families at further risk of food insecurity.”
The Ambassador of Italy, Nicoletta Bombardiere declared: “Italy is committed to continue supporting the Lebanese population, and considers the provision of basic rights, among which education and food security, as top priorities of its efforts in the country. Through the partnership with WFP, Italy promotes a vision that places the vulnerable at the centre of its aid policy”.
“Access to education and food are two fundamental rights of children and youth,” said Donatella Procesi, director of the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) in Beirut – “today, in Lebanon, they are the vital means for new generations to build their future and the one of their Country. Being this the objective, the Italian Cooperation supports WFP.”
WFP’s school meals programme, launched in Lebanon in 2016, is a critical safety net preserving people’s food security. Through the provision of basic assistance and the promotion of social protection mechanisms, it aims to prevent economically vulnerable households from slipping deeper into poverty.
Italy has supported WFP Lebanon with a total of approximately EUR 13 million since 2014 of which nearly half have gone to school meals.