A daily school meal provides a strong incentive for parents to send children to school and keep them there, allowing their children to focus on their studies, rather than their stomachs. School feeding supports the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals on hunger, education and gender parity and offers multiple benefits including education, nutrition, health, social protection and local agricultural production.
Albertina Excels in School
Albertina (9) lives with her parents, two brothers and two sisters in a hut made of sticks and grass in the village of Muchenga, in Changara, west of Mozambique. This district is one of the poorest in the country.
Fortunately for Albertina and her classmates, her school is supported by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) which ensures regular deliveries of food to their school. This means that, every day, the children get to eat a hot meal at school which helps them to apply themselves to their lessons.
Despite the difficult conditions, Albertina is an outstanding student. Among her 4th grade classmates at Makhonje primary school, she is known not just for her studiousness but also for her support for her fellow pupils. "I like studying and help my classmates to do their homework. I would like to become a teacher" she says.
Apollinaire Overcomes Polio
Polio and poverty meant Apollinaire had a difficult start to life. But things began to look up when he was sent to a WFP-supported school in Bujumbura, Burundi.
Apollinaire was three years old when he had polio which left him crippled. As a disabled child living in a small village of Burundi, his future seemed grim. The nearest school was 10 km away from his home in Muramvya province. His parents could not afford any kind of transport to take him to school - in fact until the age of five he didn't have crutches to walk around on. Any formal education seemed unobtainable for a Burundian boy in such conditions.
Today Apollinaire is a communications specialist working for the Embassy of South Africa in Burundi, with a successful career as a journalist behind him. He attributes his success to the support WFP gave him during his time at Saint Kizito school.
Nimdoma Scales Mountains
Climbing six of the world's seven tallest mountains - let alone finishing high school and pursuing higher education - isn't within easy reach for many poor girls living in the Himalayan foothills. But that's exactly what Nimdoma Sherpa has been able to achieve thanks to WFP school meals.
Like many of her classmates, Nimdoma's primarily reason for attending class was because of the meals WFP provided, but she quickly became interested in learning, both for the enrichment it provided and because she saw it as a means to achieve her personal and professional goals. "WFP's School Meals Programme encouraged me to focus on my studies and helped me to grow strong in mind and body," said Nimdoma.
Now an adult, Nimdoma is a member of the First Inclusive Women's Sagarmatha Expedition, a WFP- supported group of women who climbed Everest in 2008 and has spread the message of hope, gender inclusion and the importance of education to children and schools across Nepal.
Now the group has one more mountain to summit before it completes its goal of climbing the tallest peak on each continent. "I am very much thankful to WFP because it opened the door of educational opportunities for me and helped me to pursue my dream of climbing Everest" said Nimdoma!