July 10, 2017
Written by Christin Roby
This article originally appeared on Devex.
MOPTI, Mali — When midday strikes the village of Soufoulaye, hundreds of elementary school children flood the front yard, their open-air cafeteria, in preparation for lunch. First, the students crowd two hand washing buckets, one with soap and one to rinse. Then, the 500 students organize themselves into small clusters. Parents serving as cafeteria volunteers bring large, silver bowls filled with rice and fish to each group.
Scenes like this provide school lunches for up to 72,000 Malian children daily. Parents and community members say Soufoulaye’s program, funded by the United States McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, or FFE, are responsible for raising school attendance, improving nutrition and boosting girls’ access to education.
Under the proposed 2018 federal budget of President Donald Trump, however, the FFE program could be eliminated. The “America First” blueprint budget released in March cites concerns that school lunch schemes lack evidence of “being effectively implemented to reduce food insecurity.”