In Venezuela, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Program (WFP) are jointly implementing a pilot program that seeks to strengthen the resilience of school communities in two municipalities of Falcón state, in the northwest of the country. The program has three main objectives, to improve access to school meals with nutritious foods through food assistance and support for local agri-food production, strengthen nutrition services for the prevention and treatment of malnutrition in boys and girls under 5 years of age, and improve access to quality education, while promoting healthy and safe educational environments.
“This program with financing from the Joint Fund for the Sustainable Development Goals contributes to the development of an alternative, sustainable and resilient food system, centered on the school. The goal is to empower communities and provide a path to self-sufficiency,” said Gianluca Rampolla del Tindaro, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Venezuela.
In coordination with authorities at different levels, communities and small-scale local producers, the program strengthens production systems and short distribution chains. All this, with the purpose of improving access to varied diets with fresh food for children and adolescents through school meals.
These meals, served in schools and in the form of rations to take home, as household support, will be distributed by WFP in 23 initial education schools in the Falcón and Zamora municipalities, with the direct participation of the school communities. The preparations include eggs, fruits and vegetables purchased directly from two Agricultural Technical Schools, whose production capacity and quality control processes have been established with the support of the FAO, with an estimated production of 37 thousand eggs per month, and several tons of fresh fruits and vegetables. Additionally, in the Agricultural Technical Schools, UNICEF is supporting the strengthening of the capacities of 250 adolescents in life skills and in collaboration with the Ministry of Popular Power for Education and the FAO, actions are being implemented to improve the contents of subjects in productive techniques through the use of digital tools.
FAO will support the 23 schools to create their own garden which, in addition to serving as teaching centers to demonstrate the production process for students and school staff, will provide fresh food to the kitchen of the school canteen.
To ensure a holistic and scaling-up approach, the intervention also addresses the infrastructure needs of these schools in terms of water, hygiene, sanitation and food preparation. These actions facilitate a better learning environment and safer food at school.
WFP works to refurbish school kitchen infrastructure and provides supplies for food preparation in schools. Supplies, equipment and training in water, sanitation and hygiene are provided in parallel by UNICEF in Initial Education Centers, Special Schools and Agricultural Technical Schools that participate in this pilot program.
In the four special education schools included in the program, for its part, the school meals program has the modality of rations to take home and nutritional education sessions
The Joint SDG Fund contributes to this comprehensive program with a budget of USD $250,000 to be implemented in a period of six months, which constitutes a door to a broader and longer-term joint work between the three agencies.