U.N. World Food Program to Provide Daily Meals to Venezuelan Children

The World Food Program (WFP) of the United Nations (UN) has signed a deal with the Venezuelan government to provide the most vulnerable schoolchildren in the South American country with daily meals.

WFP announced on April 20 that its feeding program, which has an estimated annual budget of $190 million, aims to feed 185,000 students by the end of the year and 1.5 million students by the end of the 2022 to 2023 school year.

“One out of three Venezuelans, which is about 32.3%, is food insecure today. And they are in need of assistance,” WFP Spokesperson Tomson Phiri said.

Phiri told reporters in Geneva that the program will focus on pre-primary and special education schools.

Phiri also said that the program includes “investing in the rehabilitation of school canteens and training school staff on food safety practices as a means of reaching the wider community.”

The announcement came a day after WFP Executive Director David Beasley and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro held a meeting.

“This is the first step toward a series of ambitious projects that will provide support to all of the Venezuelan people,” Maduro said on state television.

Maduro has faced accusations of attempting to use international aid as a political tool to boost his rule by giving the aid to those who support his party. Maduro has denied the claims.

“Our school meals programs are independent, they’ve always been, and separate from any other interference,” Phiri said.

The program comes amid a rise in child malnutrition linked to the economic crisis in Venezuela, according to the UN.

A joint analysis by WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization last October said that Venezuela is among 20 countries that were “likely to face potential spikes in high acute food insecurity.”

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