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October 20, 2023

Providing Nutritious Meals To Students Of Selected Schools In Remote Rural Areas[2023]

During the past 2 to 3 years (2020-2023), Sri Lanka has been affected by one of the worst socioeconomic crises the country has ever seen. Studies conducted by the United Nations organizations and the World Bank have shown the grave situation of the population, especially where nearly 28% face food insecurity in varying degrees.

The worst affected have been low-income families where large numbers of children have become malnourished. In recognition of this situation, I/D/E/A/S, which is also focused on supporting community development and humanitarian programmes, decided to contribute towards the provision of meals to school children.

 I/D/E/A/S partnered with Aspirations Education Foundation, an adjunct of Aspirations Education (Pvt) Ltd, Nawala established in 2005, having extensive links with many schools in rural areas, to implement the School Nutrition I/D/E/A/S Programme (SNIP). Aspiration Education Foundation, was set up in 2007 to provide varied forms of assistance to rural schools and communities in many parts of Sri Lanka including the North.

There is an on-going government scheme provided a breakfast meal to children in Primary Schools in the Badulla district at the cost of Rs 60 per student per day for 20-22 days per month.  The operation of the scheme is through a parent family selected by the principal to purchase required food items, cook the meal and serve the children as breakfast. The composition of the meal, as per Education Department guidelines is rice, yellow vegetable and green leafy vegetable accompanied by either eggs, fish, sprats, gram, cowpea or chickpea. However, due to the prevailing economic constraints, the government grant of Rs 60 per child per day proved to be insufficient; the schools were unable to provide the necessary protein components as required. Therefore I/D/E/A/S stepped in with an additional Rs 40 per primary school child per day for 20-22 days per month to include the affordable proteins to the school meal.

Thereby, two Primary Schools with children 5-10 years of age, in the Badulla district, have been provided with funds from January 2023 to September 2023 for the provision of the complete school meal:

Ritigaha Arawa Primary School – 49 students

Nagadeepa Primary School – 64 students

The government funded breakfast meal is not provided to secondary schools, being limited to primary schools. However, in the present situation many of the children in these remote poverty-stricken villages in School Grades 6,7 and 8 (age 10 -14 years) also show signs of malnutrition.

IDEAS decided to extend a helping hand to school children in two selected secondary schools by funding a nutritious meal of the same composition as that given to the primary school children at Rs 100 per student per day for 20 – 22 days per month.

The following two selected secondary schools with children in Grades 6, 7 and 8 have been provided with the school meal from January to September 2023.:

Pethiyagoda Secondary School, Badulla District – 110 students in grades 6, 7 and 8

Pitakumbura Maha Vidyalaya, Moneragala District – 140 students in above grades

Food production

While providing humanitarian assistance in the form of highly appreciated school meals to the school children, I/D/E/A/S also encouraged school gardening and skills development in the four schools. By now, the two primary schools have been provided with necessary gardening equipment to enhance their gardening projects.

A team from I/D/E/A/S and Aspirations Education Foundation visited the four schools in April 2023 to assess activities of the nutrition programme. A follow-up visit is planned in November 2023.

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