The event was attended by Deputy Governor of Armavir Marz Arnak Avetisyan, representatives of the regional administration and local authorities, representatives of the international donors, Armenian business sector, as well as representatives of WFP, SIFI and School Feeding and Child Welfare Agency.
The meeting was opened by the deputy marzpet of Armavir Arnak Avetisyan. Thanking all the guests for their participation, he noted the importance of achieving a common goal - the gradual transition of all schools to the National School Feeding Programme. This critical step in developing quality school meals and improving children's education would not have been possible without the help of WFP, SIFI and the financial support of the Russian Federation.
WFP representative Maria Muradyan spoke about the school feeding development project, which includes not only the school canteens reconstruction and reequipment, but also school greenhouses and vegetable gardens organizing, installation of solar panels. The project began in 2010, and since 2014, every year, schools began to come under the auspices of the Government one by one. Today already 8 out of 10 marzes are financed from the state budget. The remaining two (Armavir and Kotayk) will be transferred by the end of 2022.
Maria also noted the significant achievements of the project:
- The number of children, receiving hot meals is increasing;
- 80% of children switched to the National School Feeding Programme;
- 20% are children from vulnerable families for whom school meals are the main or only meal of the day;
- The crop of the school greenhouses installed by the project helps schools and communities in the long term;
- The Programme provides jobs for cooks and canteen workers;
- Solar panels installed in schools lighten the load of schools and save money spent on electricity.
SIFI representative Oksana Zotova spoke about the technical condition of school canteens in the marz, introduced the stages of preparing schools for the transition to the National Programme: assessing and determining the state, schools needs, preparing proposals for the repair and equipment, drawing up estimates and coordinating with headmasters, as well as financing and combining all resources (school funds, parent contributions, private donations). This is followed by the repair of canteens, the purchase of equipment, the training of cooks, and the holding of tenders for the selection of quality products for preparing school meals.
Satenik Mkrtchyan from the School Feeding and Child Welfare Agency introduced the audience to the stage when school funding is already provided at the expense of the Government, trainings for headmasters, cooks and staff are being carried out. Satenik also emphasized that the Programme directly affects not only the quality of children's nutrition, but also their health, education and even the development of communities as a whole.
Noting the equal rights of all children to access school meals, despite living in remote, hard-to-reach regions, with an insufficient budget for the development of schools, Satenik called for open cooperation of all those who are not indifferent in order to achieve the main goal - to provide children with a prosperous future.