odong district, Kompong Speu province – The UN World Food Program’s school-feeding program is off to a slower than announced start with only 75 percent of the 1,344 schools on the program having begun to serve students breakfasts, WFP officials said Monday.
WFP Acting Director Bradley Busetto said last week that all of the program’s schools had been serving breakfast to students as of the beginning of the school year on Oct 1. But a trip to Kompong Speu province Sunday revealed that schools in at least the district of Odong had not received their food supplies until Oct 12 and would not begin serving meals until Monday at the earliest.
Busetto said by telephone Monday that, in actuality, only 75 percent of program schools were feeding their students, and the remaining 25 percent would begin serving breakfast next week.
Matthew Hilton, assistant head of the Kompong Speu WFP sub-office, said the slow start of the school-feeding program was not unusual, as student attendance in some schools would only be up to normal levels during the second week of the school year.
In some areas, food supplies were delivered as late as Oct 10 because most of the program schools had filed their requests just before Pchum Ben, which made it difficult to meet all food requests on time, Hilton added.
Such delays were unrelated to the suspension of the WFP’s school-feeding program in early May due to the sharp increase in the cost of rice, he said.
Odong district principals Tol Nol, of Prachum Meth Primary School, and Ton Son, of Toul Thmei Primary School, said they received supplies Friday and would serve the first breakfasts Monday or today.
Tol Nol said he was happy to be able to again serve his 336 students breakfast. “It can make many more students come to school on time,” he said.
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