A U.S. government-backed $20-million-school-feeding program was launched Tuesday, aiming to provide a hot, daily breakfast for 150,000 primary and preschool students in Battambang, Siem Reap and Kompong Thom provinces.
Jeff Daigle, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy, joined more than 400 pupils at the In Komar Primary School in Kompong Thom province Tuesday morning as the children ate their meals, which consisted of rice and canned fish.
The program, which will be overseen by the U.N.’s World Food Program, is intended to mitigate short-term hunger, encourage school attendance and improve students’ concentration while in the classroom.
Sem Muon, the principal at In Komar school, said that about 90 percent of students attend school when they are offered free breakfast compared with about 70 percent when they are not. “
They are hungry and tired and often miss school because they cannot afford to eat breakfast as they are from poor families,” Ms. Muon said Tuesday. Her school has received food aid since 2002, she added.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said the program will be overseen by the U.N.’s World Health Program. It will be overseen by the U.N.’s World Food Program.