STORY

Brakna Community Celebrates the Power of School Meals

March 26, 2024

Counterpart’s USDA McGovern-Dole project in Mauritania brought government and local stakeholders together for International School Meals Day to emphasize the role school meals play in enabling children to reach their full potential.

More than 500 community members attended the event on March 14, including school children, teachers, parents, Counterpart staff, partner NGOs, and local and regional government officials. The celebration was held at Darnaim I, one of the 320 primary schools participating in the McGovern-Dole school feeding program.

Local and regional government officials, as well as Sidi Moulaye Zeine, secretary general of the Ministry of Education, attended the ceremony.

“[The] school canteen is much more than just a question of meals, it’s an essential part of our educational mission,” said Hamoud Ndat, school director at Darnaim I. “By providing students with nutritious meals, we give them the energy they need to focus in class, participate fully in school activities, and reach their full academic potential.”

Strong support from the government

Sidi Moulaye Zeine, secretary general of the Ministry of Education, reflected on the government of Mauritania’s increased support for school meals. “Indeed, a significant and progressive budget has been dedicated to the canteens. Today, this budget is equivalent to $3.6 million, increasing the number of canteens from 512 for 63,025 students in three regions in 2019 to 1,711 canteens for 242,548 students in 2024 in the 15 regions of the country.”

Students wave flags to show their appreciation of the project.

The ceremony featured sketches performed by students and local dance groups. Counterpart’s chief of party, Desire Yameogo, emphasized in his comments the positive outcomes of school feeding programs and the importance of International School Meals Day in raising awareness of the benefits.

He said, “The day is a way of promoting healthy eating habits, highlighting the link between healthy eating, education and better learning, and raising awareness of the importance of nutritious, quality meals in schools.”

Youssef Ould Mohamed Abdellahi, mayor of the Aleg commune, presents a certificate and school bag to Aminetou Mint Messaoud, one of the winners of the drawing competition.

To encourage the active participation of local stakeholders, Counterpart, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, organized a competition awarding the two best-performing canteens in the region. The top performing schools received certificates and new kitchen supplies, including pots, ladles, and an improved hearth. The host school also held a drawing competition on the theme of school feeding, of which 320 students participated. The two winning artists received certificates and school supplies consisting of notebooks, bags, and books.

Students enjoying their hot lunches.

The ceremony concluded with a presentation of the local procurement and imported commodities used by the McGovern-Dole project—a hallmark of the program since 2019—a tour of the storeroom stacked with commodities, and a visit to the students enjoying their hot lunches.

The secretary general, governor, and president of the regional council joined Counterpart to plant four trees to signify the project’s commitment to sustainability. Together with our partners, we are paving the way for a brighter future for Mauritania’s youth.

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