Saudi Arabia donates 50 tons of dates for school feeding programme

By Sheila Ponnie

The government of Saudi Arabia has donated fifty (50) tons of dates to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) that will be distributed for use in its schools feeding programme across the country.

Addressing Journalists in Juba, Ali Hassan Jaafar, Saudi Arabia Ambassador to South Sudan said the Kingdom donated dates to South Sudan because of its rich nutrients that is helpful to the body.

“The dates provide a range of essential nutrients and minerals,” said Jaafar.

According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification IPC, between now and the end of the year, 4.5 million people in the country cannot put food on their table.

The Greater Upper Nile continues to be the most food insecure area, and in need of urgent humanitarian support to save people’s lives, especially in the wake of recent floods in parts of the region.

The World Food Programme Representative, Mary-Ellen Mc Groary said the contribution from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an investment to the Country.

She said the number of people in need was posed to increase by another million, to five and half million people by the start of the New Year, a total might rise further.

“The dates will therefore go a long way as a complementary diet for children who are receiving school meals in the Greater Upper Nile Region, where some have been affected by the recent flooding in one way or the other,” Mc Groary said.

Mc Groary added that South Sudan has the highest proportion of children out of school in the world with around 2.2 million children not enrolled.

She said the dates which is rich in nutrients will be used to complement meals provided to some 15,000 school-going children in over 25 schools in the Greater Upper Nile region of South Sudan.

 “WFP is grateful to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for this timely gesture. The dates are not only a healthy snack but will give the much-needed dietary support to school children receiving school meals. Providing meals at schools is the best opportunity children can access education, health and nutrition at the same time,” said Mc Groary.

 Food insecurity has contributed to the rampant cases of school dropouts in various communities within the country.

WFP is providing school meals to some 500,000 school children in 1,045 schools across the country and also supplies take-home food packages to encourage parents to send and keep children at schools.

 The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an important partner to WFP, contributing assistance to a wide range of crises across the world. In 2018, WFP received US$ 239.4 million from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to support its activities across the world.

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