ROME - The United Nations World Food Programme today announced that Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand's Royal Family will become WFP's Special Ambassador for School Feeding.
Her Royal Highness, a recognised authority on nutrition and education, will promote the benefits of school feeding and good nutrition in WFP's Food for Education programmes. Presented today by WFP Executive Director James T. Morris during the agency's Executive Board meeting in Rome, Her Royal Highness, the daughter of King Bhumipol Adulyadej, spoke about her new role and the critical importance of education combined with good nutrition.
"During school visits I have noticed that food plays an important part in the success of students. Malnutrition hinders physical, mental and cognitive development of children", said Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
"I am so very pleased to have Her Royal Highness act WFP as an advocate for WFP school feeding programmes," said Morris. "Her expertise in nutrition and her outstanding record of commitment to humanitarian causes will shine a spotlight on the plight of the world's 300 million hungry children -- 100 million of whom do not attend school."
Her Royal Highness, who possesses a doctorate in development education and an M.A. in Oriental Epigraphy, has an extensive range of philanthropic interests. Among the many foundations and assistance projects she heads, Her Royal Highness serves as Executive Vice-President of the Thai Red Cross and as Executive Chairman of the Chaipattana Foundation (a Royal Family project for development and environmental preservation).
In Asia, 5.3 million children are enrolled in WFP school feeding programmes in 12 countries -- Laos, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh, China, Myanmar, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Timor-Leste, India, Indonesia and Nepal. In some countries, the meals provided in school are combined with de-worming activities to help children achieve better health as well as literacy.
"School feeding is the best investment that can be made in a country's future, and I am grateful to Her Royal Highness for bringing her excellent skills and admirable reputation to highlight the value of education and good nutrition for children," Morris said.
WFP, the largest provider of nutritious meals to poor school children, has launched a global campaign aimed at ensuring that undernourished children across the world are fed and educated. Last year, WFP fed 15 million children in 69 countries. The goal is to reach 50 million children by 2007.
A growing list of world renowned figures have agreed to promote WFP. These include former United States Ambassador and Senator George S. McGovern who helped found WFP in 1963; Cape Verdian singer Cesaria Evora who dedicated this year's Grammy Award winning song to WFP; the world's fastest marathoner, Kenyan Paul Tergat, who credits his success today to the WFP school meals he received as a child; and distinguished Egyptian actor Mahmoud Yassin, who touches hearts and minds in the Arab world.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency. In 2003 WFP fed 104 million people in 81 countries including most of the world's refugees and internally displaced people.
WFP Global School Feeding Campaign For just 19 US cents a day, you can help WFP give children in poor countries a healthy meal at school -- a gift of hope for a brighter future.
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