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Marz Shirak joined the National School Feeding Programme in Armenia

The participants of the event could enjoy wonderful exhibition of children's drawings on the topic: "Why is having a meal at school important to you?". The authors of the best works were awarded with prizes. The official part of the ceremony began with the performance of schoolchildren. They told about the Healthy School Feeding Day which was celebrated not long ago and expressed their gratitude for the work of all partners, thanks to which they and their friends every day can get hot and healthy school meals.

This Ceremony signified the achievements recorded on the way to the common goal of all partners aimed at full nationalisation of the Sustainable School Meals Programme in Armenia. Participants also expressed their gratitude for the productive cooperation.

According to the Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Armenia, Araik Harutyunyan: "Every school should be responsible for the implementation of the National School Feeding Programme. Only this way we can be sure in it's effectiveness. Guarantee of this efficiency are happy and active children. I wish good luck to the local authorities, who are now responsible for the implementation of the National Programme! I am sure that together we will achieve all the tasks!".

Anna Valkova, Deputy Director of the Department of International Financial Relations of the Russian Ministry of Finance, spoke about the partnership, next steps and expectations for creating a powerful set of measures to adopt and strengthen centralized school feeding models: "We would like to suggest schools to use extra-budgetary funds. This year we launched greenhouses in Ararat and call on all international organizations to productive cooperation. Today we started discussing a new five-year project, the main task of which is to handover all marzes to the National Programme by 2023".

Alexander Kopnin, Consul General of Russia in Gyumri, spoke about the main goal of school feeding programme:"Children must grow healthy, be protected from diseases and have the energy to studying and physical activities that is the aim of the School Feeding Programmes which are essential for ensuring the right of children to adequate food, education and health".

Since 2010 a comprehensive assessment of school feeding has been given, and the main problems of the system have been identified. SIFI experts examined the infrastructure of the schools, the correspondence of school kitchens and canteens to sanitary standards, individual plans for equipping school kitchens were developed, and thanks to that 534 schools were re-equipped in 5 marzes, another 470 schools in the following five marzes will be re-equipped later.

According to SIFI President Vladimir Chernigov: "Five regions have already joined the National School Feeding Programme. We crossed the top of the mountain. Less than half of the schools is left to be re-equipped. And we are very pleased that in spite of any events, the programme is being developed consistently. I'm very thankful for that. We already understand how to repair and re-equip, now we need the institutionalization, that will give sustainability to the process. We are ready to continue all the actions so that the programme develops. And we are very pleased to partner with the Sustainable School Feeding Foundation, which is assuming more and more competencies and procuration".

The speech of the WFP UN Country Director Elena Milosevic was accompanied by a touching words about the essence of the school feeding programmes in Armenia, that they cannot stop on what has been achieved and need to move on "to reach the day when no child in Armenia will going to be undernourished".

After the official part, the participants were shown the repaired and re-equiped school kitchen and canteen, and then joint school lunch with the school students was carried out.

Among the Participants were the Deputy Minister of Education and Science of Armenia Araik Harutyunyan, WFP UN Country Director in Armenia Elena Milosevic, representatives of the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation, the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Armenia, SIFI, the Sustainable School Feeding Foundation and UN agencies.