WFP HELPS LAUNCH LATIN AMERICAN SCHOOL FEEDING NETWORK AT INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS IN CHILE - SANTIAGO, MARCH 24-26, 2004

Código Fecha Clasificación Origen
04ROME1392 8 April 2004 No clasificado Embassy Rome

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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ROME 001392

SIPDIS

FROM U.S. MISSION IN ROME

STATE FOR WHA/USOAS AMBASSADOR NORIEGA, AS/IO HOLMES, PRM/P,
WHA/BSC, WHA/CEN, WHA/CAR, WHA/AND, WHA/EPSC FOR SUMMIT
COORDINATING OFFICE AND IO/EDA BEHREND/KOTOK
USAID FOR A/AID, AA/LAC FRANCO, DAA/DCHA GRIGSBY, DCHA/FFP
LANDIS
USDA/FAS FOR U/S PENN, DEPUTY U/S BUTLER,
CHAMBLISS/TILSWORTH/GAINOR/PRIDDY
GENEVA FOR AMBASSADOR MOLEY, RMA LYNCH AND NKYLOH/USAID
USUN FOR AMBASSADOR NEGROPONTE AND MLUTZ
BRUSSELS FOR USAID/LERNER
NSC FOR JDWORKEN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID, EAGR, AORC, PREF, SENV, FAO, WHO, WFP, UNESCO
SUBJECT: WFP HELPS LAUNCH LATIN AMERICAN SCHOOL FEEDING
NETWORK AT INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS IN CHILE - SANTIAGO, MARCH
24-26, 2004

REF: (A) ROME 1010, (B) 03 ROME 4879


Summary


1. An international school feeding congress - "Networks
Beyond Borders," attracted more than 800 participants from
19 countries. The event included an industry fair with 40
companies from the Americas and workshops on nutrition, food
safety and technology, school feeding programming and
research issues. Held in Santiago, Chile, March 24-26,
2004, the conference received a special blessing from Pope
John Paul II for working to improve the lives of children
throughout Latin America through the use of food and
education. The Latin American School Feeding Network (LA-RAE
in Spanish) aims to strengthen and expand school feeding
programs by connecting the people - parents, teachers,
government officials, food processors, distributors,
nutrition and education organisations - that are involved at
all levels of operations. The Network has grown out of
several initiatives in Latin America and concerted efforts
by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), the American
School Food Service Association (ASFSA), and the Government
of Chile’s National Board for Student Assistance and
Scholarship (JUNAEB). In addition to providing information
and technical assistance, LA-RAE will work to create
national associations that can meet local needs facing
individual countries. The first national association, in
Colombia, was established in September 2003. US
Mission/Rome is highly supportive of this new initiative and
will work with WFP Headquarters to explore how the
partnership can be further nurtured. End summary.


Background


2. As reported ref A, in February, 2003, the World Food
Program (WFP), the Chilean Board of Educational Assistance
and Scholarships (JUNAEB), and the American School Food
Service Association (ASFSA) signed a letter of intent to
develop an independent school feeding network to improve and
sustain school feeding activities in the future throughout
Latin America. The parties are committed to developing a
sustainable organization, capable of expanding school
feeding activities through the strengths of the private
sector and through partnerships that engage a wider
commitment from all areas of the community.

3. An international school feeding congress (March 24-26,
2004, in Santiago, Chile) - "Networks Beyond Borders,"
attracted more than 800 participants from 19 countries in

Latin America. The event included an industry fair with 40
companies from the Americas and workshops on nutrition, food
safety and technology, school feeding programming and
research issues. Tim Lavelle, U.S. Mission/Rome Humanitarian
Attache, as well as U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Babette
Gainor, Veronica Priddy, Sandra Fajemisin and Peggy Cantfil,
attended the congress. Note. In FY 2003, USDA supported
school feeding projects in the following Latin American
countries under the McGovern-Dole International Food for
Education and Child Nutrition Program: Bolivia, Guatemala,
Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.


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A special message of encouragement from Pope John Paul II


------------

4. The following message was communicated to the delegates
attending the Santiago Conference through a letter dated
March 24, 2004, received from Vatican Secretary of State
Cardinal Angelo Soldano, as follows: "On the occasion of the
launching, in Santiago, Chile, of the Latin America school
feeding network, as supported by the UN’s World Food
Program, his Holiness extends his best regards to those
present at this conference, expresses his appreciation for
this school feeding initiative in support of needy children
and blesses the support of the international community,
asking God to give strength and perseverance to all involved
in this task of solidarity. He is pleased to impart to each
and everyone of you his Apostolic Blessing."


Conference interventions/comments


5. The inaugural session was opened by the Honorable Sergio
Bitar Chacra, Minister of Education, Government of Chile.
Bitar explained how school feeding had played a critical
role in the health and development of Chile’s children.
"Democracy brought access to education and together with
school feeding programs, they have been the main keys for
sustainable growth and equal opportunities," said Minister
Bitar. "While the effects of education are slower on time,
the effects of school feeding are immediate." He emphasized
education as the first priority for Latin America,
particularly education for the most needy children, and
encouraged conference participants to learn from each
other’s experiences. The Minister noted that Chile provides
school meals to over 1.3 million children daily, including
the continental and insular area of the country, at a
national average cost of USD 0.63 per portion served. Note.
GOC annual investment is presently USD 180 million and the
program is entering into its fortieth year. End note.

6. "It was the first time that so many school feeding
professionals - institutions, teachers and government
ministers - had the opportunity to meet in one place and
discuss the issues affecting our communities," said Mara
Jos Ravalli, Education Communication Officer at the Pan-
American Institute for Food Protection in Argentina.

7. "Our goal is to link people across borders and provide
e
access to information, technical assistance and the latest
education and nutrition studies available," explained Dr.
Francisco Espejo, National Director of JUNAEB and one of the
Network’s founders. "Right now we are missing opportunities
to improve our programs because communication and knowledge
within the region is limited. Access to people and
information is critical for the development and success of
any business and school feeding is no exception."

8. Barbara Belmont, Executive Director of the U.S.-based,
55,000 member strong, ASFSA, and a founding member of the
Network, pointed out that associations provide a powerful
vehicle for legislative change. "Associations can develop a
solid base for influencing legislators, affecting policy
decisions and establishing important health and nutrition
standards at the national level" she said. "An independent
voice for food and education programs will help secure
financially sustainable operations that include many
stakeholders." Note. ASFSA was strongly represented at this
event and made a number of important interventions. End
note.


----
The Latin America School Feeding Network (LA-RAE)


----

9. Headquartered initially in Santiago, Chile, the Latin
American School Feeding Network (LA-RAE in Spanish) aims to
strengthen and expand school feeding programs by connecting
the people - parents, teachers, governments, food
processors, distributors, and nutrition or education
organizations - that are involved at all levels of
operations. In addition to providing information and
technical assistance, LA-RAE is committed to
creating/strengthening national associations that can meet
local needs facing individual countries. Note. The first
national association, in Colombia, was established in
September 2003. End note. La-RAE’s website (which will
reportedly be operational before April 30) is www.larae.org.


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Involving the private sector in the social safety net


--------

10. The conference focused on the important role companies
can play in national school feeding programs. Presentations
by Tetrapak (focused on Mexico and China), TNT (a subset of
the Dutch multinational TPG), and Unilever discussed how
corporate profits can go hand in hand with social
responsibility. Note. Mexico’s presentation underlined the
efforts of the Government at the national and state levels
to reach 7.6 million undernourished primary school children
in vulnerable areas through a school breakfast program - and
where coverage has attained only 5.1 million to date. End
note. Additional note. A discussion of the school milk
project in China will be discussed septel. End additional
note.

11. These companies, along with Hendaya, Ipal, Mirafiori,
Raciosil, Santa Cecilia, Schwan’s, and four
organizations-ASFSA, the Friends of WFP, JUNAEB, and WFP -
constitute the Founding Members of the Network. Founding
Members are those who contribute $25,000 or more for the
creation of the Network. One of the Founding Member
companies-Unilever-was selected during the week as the
private sector member of the five-member Interim Board for
the Network. ASFSA, JUNAEB, WFP and the Colombia National
Chapter are the other Board members.

12. Reflecting on the conference, Laura Coomey, U.S. and
Latin America Sales Manager at Dupont, said it also provided
an invaluable opportunity to understand the realities facing
school children in Latin America. "The benefits go both
ways," she said. "The Network provides access to key
decision makers that we would not otherwise meet. At the
conference, we were able to meet with education officials
from several countries and develop contacts for future
business."


Comment


13. US Mission/Rome is highly supportive of this new
initiative and will work with WFP Headquarters to explore
how the partnership can be further nurtured. We have already
recommended a former Mickey Leland Congressional Hunger
Fellow to WFP, who could assist with immediate follow up
activities. I see ample opportunity particularly through the
provision of USAID technical assistance to WFP in a number
of Latin American countries, to meld private sector and
civil society efforts into support for school feeding. Chile

has shown it can be done; the GOC contributes U.S. dollars
(USD) 180 million annually and the program benefits from
widespread private sector/civil society involvement. This is
a true "win-win" situation. Reportedly some 50 million
children throughout the Latin American region already
benefit from some type of feeding program. The challenge is
how to improve the quality of these efforts while expanding
coverage to needy children that make up an important
percentage of the approximately 100 million who today are
not covered by any feeding interventions. Given the
importance of school feeding to our Latin American allies
(refs A and B), the USG should give the Network initiative
our full support. Widening the circle of players, as Chile
has proved, is one sure-fire method of making this work.
Hall

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2004ROME01392 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED