CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The families of Venezuelan school children living in poverty this week began receiving food rations from a United Nations agency.
The parents or guardians of children under the age of 6 in the northwest Venezuelan state of Falcon received a monthly ration for each child of 13.2 pounds (6 kilograms) of rice, 8.8 pounds (4 kilograms) of lentils, a pound (450 grams) of iodized salt and 33.8 ounces (1 liter) of vegetable oil.
The packages distributed by the World Food Program are part of an agreement with the Venezuelan government meant to feed about 185,000 children this year.
The agency will provide school meals, invest in school cafeterias and train staff in food safety standards under the agreement signed in April with President Nicolas Maduro. It is providing food rations initially because schools are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are reaching these vulnerable children at a critical stage of their lives when their brains and bodies need nutritious food to develop to their full potential,” Susana Rico, agency representative in Venezuela, said in a statement Wednesday, a day after the first food distribution at a school in the town of Coro.
The agency aims to provide 42,000 packages in the first month.
The organization plans to gradually expand programs to reach 1.5 million children by the end of the 2022-2023 school year.