by Djaounsede Pardon
KINSHASA – Mrs Kambere says her children are making tremendous strides since they began receiving school meals six months ago. Without hunger pangs to distract them, their minds are free to learn.
But the benefits of school feeding don't stop at the classroom. Back at home, they take the form of doctors visits, clean clothes and other basic necessities that finally fit inside the Kambere family budget. “I used to spend US $3.00 a day on lunch for my three kids,” says Mrs Kambere. “Now I can put that money aside.”
Saving on the cost of three meals a day can make a tremendous difference for many Congolese families, who spend around 40% of their income just to stay fed.
“I no longer have to worry about preparing lunch for my kids, because they've already eaten at school. Instead of making lunch for five people, now I only have to prepare it for my husband and I,” she said.
The din of voices in Mrs Kambere’s classroom gives an idea how many families school meals are helping to wrestle out of poverty.
There are over 600 students in this primary school in Kivu Province, an earea in eastern DRC where tree fungus and overfarming have decimated the local banana crop. An education, like the one WFP school meals help to make possible, offers these children the surest route to a better life.
“In the past, our kids were reluctant to come to school. They were always late and my colleagues and I had to shout everyday to get them into class.” Now, Mrs. Kambere says her classroom is always full and her students are doing better than ever.
Children in Eastern Congo receive a daily helping of cornmeal and beans fortified with the vitamins and minerals their minds and bodies need to grow. WFP runs school meals programmes in over 68 countries that benefit some 22.6 million children around the world.