LA PAZ. --WFP plays a very proactive role in the implementation of this management model, which is not limited to just distributing food for the school feeding programme, which includes breakfast and lunch. WFP also coordinates with the municipal government to fund the school breakfast and lunch, and to make sure that locally produced food is included in the menu.
Municipal governments buy the food produced by small holder farmer associations. These farmers associations, many of them are led by women, receive WFP support to help them increase yields, improve food quality and gain access to the local school feeding programmes, which are managed by the municipal governments. The idea is that the schoolchildren eat fresh foods grown by their own community, often by their own parents.
At school, WFP supports teachers and students to grow school gardens and greenhouses. The school children and their teachers produce fresh foods, mostly vegetables and fruits, which provides vitamins and minerals and also complement their school meals. When there is surplus food, the school sells it to the local market and the profits is used to buy school supplies.
The Sundur Wasi School
The management model described above works well in the Sundur Wasi School, in the municipality of Zudañez, in the department of Chuquisaca. WFP provides rice, fortified wheat flour, salt, and cooking oil to the school feeding programme. The municipal government, through the Association of Municipalities for School Feeding of Chuquisaca (MAECH, in Spanish), buys the raw foods –such as quinoa and wheat--from local farmers associations. The municipality also purchases processed or traditional Bolivian foods to complement the school meals, such as maize api (a drink), toasted beans, goard jelly, wheat and honey granola.
According to Genaro Yucra, a city councilor of Zudañez and president of MAECH, in the case of the Sundur Wasi School, at least four small farmers associations benefit from selling their produce to the school feeding programme.
City Councilor Yucra said he knows the value of school meals. He received meals in schools thanks to WFP’s School Feeding Programme, and he recalls the food he ate then always came from abroad. However, WFP has changed the way it works in Bolivia, and it is implementing a management model that will guarantee the sustainability of the school feeding programme and of the local economy. “WFP no longer gives us the fish, it teaches us how to fish,” said Yucra when referring to the way School Feeding was managed in the past and the way it is managed today.
“This [management model] prepares us for the time when WFP is no longer present in the municipality of Zudañez, so that the school feeding programme continues,” said Yucra. It will ensure that the municipal government provides the funding to sustain the programme, that small holder farmer associations keep improving the production and generate income, and that parents involved in the programme ensure their children receive good quality daily meals and education at school every day.
During her first mission to Bolivia, WFP Deputy Regional Director, Alzira Ferreira, for Latin America and the Caribbean said she was impressed with the work done by all local actors at the Sundur Wasi School. Programmes like this one have a tremendous impact on the lives of people and have the potential to be replicated in other parts of Bolivia and the Americas, she said. “This model of management clearly demonstrates that governments are making greater efforts to revert the impact of food insecurity and malnutrition,” said Ferreira during her visit to the town of Zundañez.
Ecological Potatoes Are Part of the School Meals
Edgar Gonzalez, WFP Field Monitor, said that the Sundur Wasi School has also succeeded in complementing the school meals with improved potatoes. These potatoes were produced through the Innovation for Food Security and Sovereignty in the Andes (ISSANDES) project, financed by the International Potato Center (CIP) and the European Union (EU). “The production of this potato is ecological, therefore it is a healthy addition to the school meals,” he said.
WFP’s participation in this management model at the Sundur Wasi School began three years ago, when the initiative was financed by the EU. Nowadays, the model continues to work with the aim of achieving sustainability and contributing to the development of the Zundañez town and its people.