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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03ROME4879
2003-10-24 14:40:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Rome
Cable title:  

LATIN AMERICAN INTEREST IN SCHOOL FEEDING

Tags:  AORC EAGR SENV EAID XK XR WFP WHO 
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						UNCLAS  ROME 004879 

SIPDIS


FROM FODAG

STATE FOR IO A/S HOLMES, IO/EDA BEHREND, WHA/FO,
WHA/USOAS
USDA/FAS FOR U/S PENN, CHAMBLISS, GAINOR
USAID FOR DCHA A/A WINTER, DCHA/FFP LANDIS, LAC A/A
FRANCO
NSC FOR JDWORKEN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AORC EAGR SENV EAID XK XR WFP WHO
SUBJECT: LATIN AMERICAN INTEREST IN SCHOOL FEEDING


-------
Summary
-------



1. Representatives of the Group of Latin American and
Caribbean countries (GRULAC) met with Ambassador Tony
Hall to express their strong support for school feeding
initiatives. They are concerned about declining U.S.
funding for the McGovern-Dole International Food for
Education Program, particularly in Latin America. They
expressed a desire to work together on this valuable
initiative and wanted to draw attention to the problems
they confront with "pockets of poverty" in their
countries. End summary.



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



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


Support and Concern for the School Feeding Initiative


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





2. On October 10, Ambassadors Angel Sartori Arellano of
Chile (currently president of GRULAC), Jose Pablo Moran
of Peru and Mario Arvelo Caamano of the Dominican
Republic and their relevant staff met with Ambassador
Tony Hall and his staff at the United States Mission to
the UN Agencies in Rome to discuss school feeding. They
expressed their thanks and appreciation to the U.S. for
our funding of school feeding programs around the world.
They noted that they were convinced of the merit of these
programs in getting children to school, keeping them in
school and helping them learn while they are there, but
they were extremely concerned with the decline in U.S.
funding for the programs.



3. In addition to the overall decline in resources (U.S.
dollar (USD) 300 million in 2000 for the Global Food for
Education Initiative (GFEI), USD 100 million in 2002 for
the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education
Program and a request for only USD 50 million in FY
2004), they were specifically referring to the recent
USDA/FAS announcements regarding the FY 2003 USD 100
million grant recipients. Of the 21 countries to receive
grants, only 3 are Latin American (Bolivia, Guatemala and
Nicaragua) and only Bolivia will be operated through the
World Food Program (WFP). The two others will be
administered by the Private Voluntary Organizations
(PVOs) Food for the Poor and Project Concern
International, respectively.



4. During FY 2001 and FY 2002, Colombia, the Dominican
Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, and Peru had all
received funding for school feeding programs from GFEI.
Needless to say, this cut is being perceived as
particularly hard on Latin America. WFP (in a brief
passed along by the ambassadors) had attempted to
describe the larger picture, i.e. declining WFP support
from USDA and increasing support from USAID and overall
U.S. funding for WFP projects in Latin America, such as
the U.S. donation of USD 10 million out of USD 13 million
received for their Central America Regional operation.



5. They requested that the USG reevaluate cuts to the
school feeding program, especially in Latin America.
They plan to alert their colleagues in Washington and New
York, given their governments' strong support for these
programs. The Dominican Ambassador noted the impact of
basic education and corresponding opportunities as a
disincentive for economic migration to the US.



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



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


"Let us sit down soon to eat with all those who haven't
eaten" - Chilean Nobel Prize Laureate Pablo Neruda
The Latin American School Feeding Network


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



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





6. GRULAC used the opportunity to highlight their own

commitment to school feeding initiatives in their
countries and willingness to assist one another. The
Chilean Government and its National Network for Student
Support, together with WFP and the 55,000 member American
School Food Service Association (ASFSA), are creating an
organization to support school feeding programs in the
region. The GOC is committing its own resources to the
new organization, as well as hosting the organizing
meeting in Santiago, March 22-26, 2004. The inspiration
for this Latin American School Feeding Network came at a
1999 conference in Medellin, Colombia, and has received
support from the First Ladies of the Americas Network.



7. The Chilean representative highlighted their desire
to reach out and include the private sector in this
effort, given the model used in the United States.
Private companies, such as Land o' Lakes and Nestle, have
recognized the importance of school feeding, as both a
business opportunity and investment in their future
workforce. The Dominican Ambassador informed the group
that education was becoming a larger priority for his
government, with the education budget increasing to eight
percent of the total and the Vice President serving as
the Minister of Education.



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

-
"Pockets of Poverty" and related issues at WFP


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

-



8. Finally, GRULAC expressed their concern that the WFP
Strategic Plan and "concentration" would lead to the
closing of development programs in Latin America. This
Strategic Plan is being discussed at the WFP Executive
Board this week, and the USG supports WFP's efforts to
concentrate its resources in the poorest, low-income food
deficit countries. This will inevitably lead to a
dwindling WFP presence in Latin America, as it is
receiving fewer resources for development activities from
the U.S. and other donors. While all Latin American
countries have "pockets of poverty" that often contain
chronically and occasionally acutely malnourished people,
on par with African and Asian countries, most of their
governments are able to better cope with these cases.



9. They specifically requested U.S. support for their
efforts to obtain a more favorable result from the WFP
Strategic Plan. Ambassador Hall responded by stating
that he could not guarantee U.S. support on the issue of
WFP's concentration, but that he would continue to
advocate for a strong school feeding program and
communicate their concerns back to Washington.



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

--
Conclusion - Ambassador Hall's personal comment


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

--



10. I believe the McGovern-Dole Program, and WFP's
Global School Feeding Campaign, are worthy of strong USG
support. It is a good investment of resources in
achieving our priorities related to combating terrorism,
promoting economic development and achieving humanitarian
goals. I was able to tell my Latin American colleagues
of my work in Congress to establish the program and
convince them of my personal commitment. They are hoping
that the US will continue to be a generous funder, and an
active supporter, of school feeding in Latin America.
Given our strategic interests in GRULAC's support for
other USG priorities in the multilateral context, I hope
that we can respond positively. The bottom line is that
this is a high priority for the group, given that it was
the first time they had requested a formal meeting and
that their Ambassadors do not work on WFP or FAO issues
normally, as they serve bilaterally as well.

BRAKEL


NNNN
2003ROME04879 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED