The main purpose of the trip was to see first-hand results of the long-term financial support provided by the Russian Federation to the Republic of Armenia contributing to food security and human capital development, and community development. Also, the visit allowed to see how School Feeding has become an all-inclusive model integrating clean, green, nutritious and health aspects into the lives of children in grade 1-4 in the ten regions of Armenia.
During the visit, Anush Lalazaryan, Head of the Department of Policy Development and Analysis of the General Education Department of the RA Ministry of Education, Science Culture and Sports, accompanied the Russian Delegation during the trip to share success of the programme and impacts of the valuable partnership between Government of Armenia, Russian Federation and World Food Programme.
The Russian delegation, jointly with the UN WFP, visited Charenstavan and Teghut schools where more than 400 primary schoolchildren enjoy hot and nutritious meals every day.
In Charenstsavan school, WFP showcased investments in school feeding and in kitchen infrastructures that made the enabling environment to shift from providing “biscuits” to proper lunch meals for children and prove the significant milestones of the programme over the years. WFP, with the support of the experts from the Russian Social Industrial and Foodservice Institute, began modernizing the infrastructure of school canteens and kitchens marz after marz and school after school, turning the destroyed and poor looking premises into cozy and bright canteens equipped with modern equipment.
To ensure sustainability of the school feeding programme, WFP together with the experts from the Social and Industrial Foodservice Institute of the Russian Federation designed the transformative approach that allows schools to produce fruits and vegetables while enhancing schools’ capacities and integrating modern, clean, and green technologies into the programme, such as hydroponics, drip irrigation, solar stations, etc.
In Teghut school representatives of both governments got a chance to see the transformation of the programme and understand how the school agricultural investments are contributing to healthy eating habits among children, engaging communities, serve as a learning platform for children and community members, create job opportunities, and finally create additional source of income for schools.
WFP has an integrated approach to School feeding in Armenia, which promotes healthy nutrition and community development. The delegation will visit the Wholegrain Academy Training and Resource center and a bakery that were supported by WFP as part of the Wholegrain Value Chain project whereby children in Tavush and Lori eat whole grain as part of their meals.
Background Information: The School Feeding Programme was launched in 2010 with the financial contribution from the Russian Federation and in technical cooperation with the Social and Industrial Foodservice Institute (SIFI) with a vision of full nationalize the programme by 2023. The USD 18 million contribution from the Russian Federation (2019-2023) enabled WFP to multiply investments in the School Feeding Programme as the vehicle to contributing to eradicating hunger and malnutrition in the country.
The Programme began with a simple food distribution to schools and soon turned into a full-scale National School Feeding Programme. In 2020, WFP and the Government of Armenia launched a new phase of the Transformative School Feeding Programme. WFP expanded its technical cooperation with Social and Industrial Foodservice Institute (SIFI) of the Russian Federation to introduce new components and activities to support the Government of Armenia across ten provinces in establishing a more sustainable and nutrition-sensitive approach to school meals by introducing green technologies including solar stations, school gardens and greenhouses as part of the Transformative School Feeding Programme aimed at enhancing self-reliance of schools as well as creating opportunities of greater involvement of schoolchildren and parents.
The mix between national financial support and local school and community ownership has ensured a smooth transition into strong national and local ownership and thereby ensuring long term sustainability of the programme in Armenia.