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Pilot projects on school feeding development were launched in Tajikistan

The grand opening of the pilot projects took place on September 13 at School No. 3 of Rogun. The event was attended by the mayor of Rogun, Sulaimonzoda Muzaffar, Deputy Minister of Health and Social Protection of Tajikistan, Mirhamuddin Kamolzoda, representatives of the UN WFP, SIFI, Ministry of Finance of Russia, directors of pilot schools.

In total, the pilot program covered 35 schools of the Khatlon region and 15 schools of Rogun and districts of Rasht, Nurabad, Tajikobad and Lakhsh.

Back in April of the previous year, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Education and Science of Tajikistan, together with the WFP, with the assistance of the Russian Social and Industrial Foodservice Institute (SIFI), developed an action plan that fit into the logic of the Strategy for Sustainable Development of School Nutrition until 2027 that was adopted earlier.

"Our long-standing fruitful cooperation has continued for several years, but giving money is not enough - we need to use it wisely. In this connection, I would like to thank the local authorities, executive authorities, WFP, SIFI," said Pavel Evseev, head of the International Development Assistance Division of the International Financial Relations Department of the Ministry of Finance of Russia.

Today, more than half of primary schoolchildren in the United Nations WFP program have hot meals in Tajikistan on a daily basis. More than 400 thousand children in 1,992 schools of the country are included in this project. But its goal is cover not a half, but all Tajik students from grades 1 to 4 with a varied, safe, balanced diet with support from the state and joint efforts of schools, local communities and parents.

"We would like all schools to have the same conditions as here in Rogun. Continuing our joint work in partnership with the government of Tajikistan, with the support of SIFI, we will someday be able to give all the children of Tajikistan what the children at this school have today, I'm sure," Alberto Mendes, the UN WFP Director, expressed the general desire in Tajikistan.

To understand the most effective way to provide children with hot meals throughout the country, you need to try different options first - after all, there is no one universal scheme for everyone. Therefore, pilot schools will test models of basic school canteens (one school), interschool bakeries in five schools and school farms in eight schools (a project that is being implemented jointly with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Of course, it was impossible just to start providing children with lunch, baking bread and growing crops. Preparation required time, investment of effort and money. The equipment was purchased by UN WFP and SIFI.

Speaking at the school that day, Vladimir Chernigov, the SIFI President, spoke directly to the main characters and critics of school feeding programs - to the children.

"Children, if you don't eat well and eat right, it will be difficult to grow up tall, healthy, smart and good looking. That is why let us share the tasks - the teachers will teach you, and we will try to ensure that you eat properly, and then you will grow up to be real citizens of your country. We wish you listen good and eat delicious," he concluded.

Throughout the year, the WFP, SIFI specialists, together with khukumats, schools, parents and students, were engaged in repairing and reorganizing the infrastructure of school canteens and catering units. In order to organize public catering, and even more so, the nutrition of children, one needs to do everything by the rules. Security cannot be neglected; nothing can be left for later.

Experts understood that at first it would be difficult for schools to manage their new responsibilities. They tried to help by developing special balanced menus, the variety and composition of which can be adjusted depending on the financial capabilities of parents raising money to buy additional products. The involvement of parents in one form or another is a key factor as in all school feeding programs.

Chefs and employees of the catering units are also entering a new field for themselves, and training courses were organized for them that helped to understand the new equipment, the rules for workplace organization, sanitary standards, menu design and technologies for preparing the bestest school lunches.