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USDA announces McGovern-Dole school lunch grants

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Tom Vilsack, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), today announced grants that will provide school meals around the world. These grants are from the McGovern-Dole international school meals program.

Ten countries, around 2.7 million children, will receive the meals. The countries include Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guatemala, Laos, Nepal, Nicaragua, Senegal and Tanzania. The World Food Programme, Catholic Relief Services and other agencies receive the funding and provide the meals.

Vilsack says, “The McGovern-Dole program doesn’t just feed hungry children, it invests in their future potential. Supporting healthy families and improving access to education helps to combat the root causes of poverty and fosters sustainable economic growth in developing nations.”

Some of the countries on the grant list are in the second or third year of previously awarded funding. The grant for Save the Children to provide meals in Guatemala is a continuation of a grant first issued last year.

Catholic Relief Services received new grants for Burkina Faso and Benin. CRS was denied funding to provide school meals in Cameroon. The U.S. Congress allocates funding each year for McGovern-Dole and there is not enough to meet the demand for school meals worldwide.

World Vision received a grant to feed children in Nicaragua. Nascent Solutions will be feeding children in Cameroon with one of the McGovern-Dole grants issued today. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) received the largest grants to provide school meals in Bangladesh, Nepal and Laos.

The food for the school lunches must next be resourced from local food producers in the developing countries or shipped from overseas. Transit time is a huge problem for the McGovern-Dole program. At last report, WFP had not even received the food supply for a grant issued in 2013 for Malawi.

The program, when applied, is effective at reducing hunger and promoting education in developing countries. Jen Hardy of Catholic Relief Services recently reported on a McGovern-Dole grant feeding 35,000 children in Laos.

The McGovern-Dole program was named after former senators George McGovern and Bob Dole, who both championed this cause during their careers in public office.

The need for school lunches is massive worldwide. The Central African Republic, Haiti and many other countries need this food as they try to overcome conflict or disasters that take their toll on children.

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