Wednesday, June 11, 2008

WFP extends breakfast program for poor Cambodian students

The U.N. food agency said Tuesday that a popular breakfast program for poor Cambodian children which was suspended last month due to a budget shortfall has resumed.

Thomas Keusters, country director of the World Food Program in Cambodia , told Kyodo News that the WFP headquarters in Rome extended the program by infusing $5.4 million, allowing the program to feed children until July 5, the end of their 2007-2008 school year.

His agency decided to suspend the program on May 1 due to the soaring cost of rice.
Keusters along with many teachers across the country had expressed concern that the suspension would affect some 450,000 schoolchildren across the country.

The program was considered to play an important role in attracting children to school and helping them pay attention in class.

The WFP earlier explained that the program was suspended because of a budget shortfall in the wake of the price of rice shooting up to about $630 per ton in March this year compared to $265 per ton in March last year.

The breakfast consists of 100 grams of rice supplemented by 25 grams of yellow split peas from the United States , 20 grams of canned fish from Japan or Thailand , 10 grams of vegetable oil and 3 grams of salt. The ration, which the WFP launched in 1999, was delivered to 1,344 out of some 6,500 elementary schools across the country.

Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the region, with some 35 percent of its 14 million people earning less than $1 a day.
KyodoJune 10, 2008