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Checking out school plates: Sughd region hosts on-site meeting on school feeding

On October 13, the city of Khujand, Sughd region, Tajikistan, hosted an important event dedicated to school feeding. Representatives of various ministries and education departments gathered to participate in an on-site meeting of the Interdepartmental Coordination Council on School Feeding.

The first gathering of this kind was held in the Sughd region last October. At that time, the working group visited schools in the city of Istaravshan. This year, members of the Coordination Council, including representatives of the Ministries of Health and Social Protection, Education and Science, Agriculture, Finance, the Tajikstandart Agency, and the Sanitary-Epidemiological Service (SES), visited schools in the B. Gafurov and Asht districts to personally observe the school feeding process.

Around 620 schools in 15 cities and districts in the Sughd region provide primary school children with hot meals under the aegis of the UN WFP School Feeding Programme. Schools are supplied with flour, butter, and chickpeas, and bakeries are being renovated, helping to provide kids with freshly baked, high-quality bread. Parents also contribute by bringing fruits and vegetables to supplement the school's healthy food options.

The State Programme for the Development of School Feeding is financed by the government. This year's budget is 1.8 million somoni for 12 pilot schools serving 5,200 children with hot lunches.

While visiting schools, the working group specialists studied the condition of canteens, storage areas, quality, and safety of food products. In addition, the experts consulted the staff responsible for school feeding on several issues, including the effective exploitation of school territory for establishing school farms to grow organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs that can be used to prepare meals.

The official part of the meeting took place in the assembly hall of the Kokhi Rudaki state institution under the leadership of the Deputy Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Tajikistan, Dilshod Safarzoda, and the Department Manager at the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, Zoira Nabiyeva.

Representatives of the Ministries of Health and Social Protection, Finance, Education and Science, as well as members of the education department of the Sughd region, shared remarks and results of the work done over the year. Also, the Regional Coordination Council for School Feeding presented a report on its activities.

Providing school children with hot meals is crucial. It helps children feel better and study more efficiently. A balanced and nutritious diet gives them energy and improves attention, both essential in class. This is why it is critical that every child gets healthy food and has the opportunity to realize their full academic potential.

The School Feeding Programme is not just a food initiative. This is about taking care of children's future and helping them become successful and happy citizens of their country.

We hope such events will continue to help improve the quality of school meals. The next on-site meeting of the Coordination Council is expected to be held in the Khatlon region in late October.