Kerry Group will contribute $750,000 plus technical support to pilot three-year programme on improving the nutrition of school meals in Honduras
An initiatve has been launched by Kerry Group alongside the World Food Programme (WFP), the food assistance branch of the United Nations, to nutritionally enhance school meals for children in Honduras.
Under this partnership (the first between an Irish company and WFP), both parties will collaborate on a three-year programme to be known as Project Leche.
Working directly with local communities and key national stakeholders, the project aims to support smallholder farmers in the production of safe and sustainable dairy products that can be used locally to optimise the nutritional content of school meals.
In Honduras, recurrent natural disasters and a susceptibility to the effects of climate change contribute to food insecurity. Weather extremes such as prolonged drought and hurricanes severely affect the ability of subsistence farmers to produce enough food to feed their families.
WFP has been supporting Honduran communities since 1970 and a core element of their work is the School Meals Programme. Funded largely by the Honduran Government, this programme provides meals to 95% of the country’s total school population.
The programme supports access to education and reduces gender inequality, giving families an incentive to send their children to school.
WFP’s Home Grown School Meals (HGSM) Programme goes one step further by purchasing food from small, local producers whenever possible, helping to strengthen local economies.
Through Project Leche, Kerry and WFP aim to improve the impact of the HGSM Programme in the project area, for both children and their local communities.
The objectives are to increase the nutritional value of school meals by increasing the dairy component; to build a more sustainable milk supply originating from local farms serving local schools; and to raise the level of nutritional awareness amongst children, parents and teachers.
Greg Barrow, Head of WFP’s United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland Office explained that WFP’s HGSM programmes link small holder farmers with income boosting local market opportunities, while the inclusion of fresh local foods into the school meals enhances the nutrition and dietary diversity of school children.
The initiativen will apply Kerry's nutritional, agricultural and processing expertise to support WFP in achieving the programme’s objectives. The company will also provide direct financial support of $750,000.
The company provides Taste and Nutrition technologies and systems; and Functional Ingredients and Actives for the global food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. Kerry’s has origins as a dairy cooperative and a “direct link to our farming heritage”, according to Kerry Group Chief Executive, Stan McCarthy.