The Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training and the World Food Programme (WFP) have launched a school meals programme in 13  schools of the Capital. The pilot project was launched on Tuesday at the Islamabad Model School for Boys Jhang Syedan, in the Nilor area, by Education Secretary Arshad Mirza.

The aim of the meals programme is to improve dietary diversity, enhance school attendance and decrease hunger pangs among schoolchildren. Under the project, 3,500 students will be provided dried fruit as a mid-morning snack and would be educated about how to improve eating habits, hygiene and health.

Education Secretary Arshad Mirza said, “We are initiating this pilot project with the support of the World Food Programme, envisioning a large scale national school meals programme where every child has access to at least one nutritious meal per day.”

According to an estimate, almost 22.6 million children in Pakistan are out-of-school. Moreover, Pakistan has the third largest student children population (44 percent). Diet is regarded as an important area of concern, as stunting can affect a child’s mental and physical development, preventing them from reaching  their full potentials.

“WFP’s vision is to eradicate hunger in our lifetime, a bold aim manifested in the Sustainable Development Goals. The provision of a daily school meal is a strong incentive to attract and keep children in schools, contributing to their overall health and wellbeing,” said WFP Country Representative Finbarr Curran.

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