PepsiCo Quaker Delegation Visits Benin School Meals Programme
Since 2011, the Dutch branch of Quaker Oats, a PepsiCo subsidiary, has been raising awareness and funds for WFP Benin’s school feeding programme. To date, Quaker Oats has provided over 2 million school meals to primary school children throughout Benin.
WFP school meals improve school enrolment and retention rates, as well as students’ concentration in the classroom. The WFP-Quaker partnership is critical to the provision of daily school meals for students in Benin.
Now in its third year of operation, the school feeding project supports districts in Benin with the highest rates of poverty and chronic malnutrition, and where school enrolment rates are below the national average. In some districts of Benin, net school enrolment rates are less than 50%.
As a part of its activities, WFP emphasizes community ownership of school canteens and local community involvement. Parent associations often manage the canteen and are responsible for maintaining the kitchens and food storage areas, and providing condiments to add to the school meal. To encourage community development and local production, WFP aims to purchase 70% of annual commodities for school meals locally, from small-holder farmers. In 2012, 76% of WFP food purchased for its school meals activities in Benin was produced locally.
WFP Benin has partnered with FAO to implement 10 pilot school gardens and has held trainings on basic school garden development and management for community members. This new initiative facilitates the diversification of school meals and provides the community with practical experience in food production and natural resource management.
In WFP assisted schools, primary school students receive a daily meal composed of maize, beans, fortified vegetable oil and iodized salt for a total of 720 kcal. The commodities distributed under the school feeding project were selected according to the dietary habits of the country and the nutritious value of the food.
Government capacity building is a central component of the school feeding project. WFP provides technical assistance to the Government of Benin in order to support the establishment and functioning of a national school feeding programme that will eventually take over completely from WFP.