Prime Minister Dahal underscores importance of school meals at UN meetThe prime minister spoke on multiple facets of school feeding programmes, their need and importance, and Nepal’s commitment towards the same.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Monday highlighted the importance and need for school meals at the United Nations Food Systems 2023 held in Italy.
Speaking at the multinational event, Dahal emphasised the need to address the setbacks, in all sectors, hindering the realisation of all sustainable development goals, particularly zero hunger.
The prime minister said that he hoped the biennial event would help further the common ambition.
“It is important that we address the bottlenecks in every sector for making a leap towards zero hunger. School meals are such an area that has tremendous transformational impact,” the prime minister said.
“Transforming food systems is crucial not only for food security, but also for full realisation of all sustainable development goals,” Dahal said. “Today, I have come with a hope that this first biennial stocktaking moment will focus on means of implementation to match those [UN Food Systems Summit in 2021] ambitions and pledges.”
Further, Dahal stated that efforts to increase access to school meals, which were derailed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, must be redoubled while also adding that special attention be given to smaller nations.
“In the first part of 2020, more children had access to school meals globally than at any time in human history. However, this progress was derailed by the Covid-19 pandemic, supply shocks and shrinking fiscal space,” he said.
“As we are recovering from the pandemic, it is important that we redouble our efforts to scale up school feeding programmes. Special attention needs to be given to the countries with smaller resource base.”
Prime Minister Dahal stated that the school meal programmes created a positive impact on the students’ overall development. Dubbing Nepal’s school feeding programme a ‘success story’, Dahal said that the budget for the same had quadrupled in the last five years.
“Nepal’s experience with school feeding is a success story. It has integrated agriculture, education, food security, nutrition, health, and sanitation in the best way,” Dahal said. “We have quadrupled the budget in the last five years for this purpose. In the current fiscal year, we have allocated six percent of the total education budget on school meals.”
The prime minister also reiterated Nepal’s commitment to scale up investment and resources for the programme.
“Nepal also joined the School Meals Coalition in 2021 to improve the quality, adequacy, coverage and sustainability of the school meals programme. We are also strengthening the capacity of the local government to implement and monitor the programmes.”
On Nepal’s plans to graduate from the Least Developed Countries by 2026, Dahal claimed that his government was striving towards establishing a sustainable home-grown school feeding model and expanding local food production to ensure a diversified and nutritious food supply to School Meals.