- Cabinet Co-Spokesman Bandula Gunawardena dismisses claims of malnutrition among children as exaggeration but reaffirms proactive measures by Govt. to improve situation
The Government has decided to double the spending on the school lunch program to Rs. 8 billion, to serve an additional one million students following support received from donor agencies and friendly countries.
The proposal to this effect, submitted by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, was approved by the Cabinet Ministers on Monday.
“Annually, the Government spends around Rs. 4 billion to implement the school lunch program covering 1.08 million students in 7,926 schools countrywide. In addition to this, it was decided to allocate Rs. 4 billion, extending the total to Rs. 8 billion, whilst expanding the student reach to over two million children given the current economic crisis,” Cabinet Co-Spokesman and Minister Bandula Gunawardena said at the post-Cabinet meeting media briefing yesterday.
He said the additional Rs. 4 billion was extended by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the World Bank and China.
“The Government has taken measures to provide a wholesome lunch program immediately to address the concerns raised over nutrition among schoolchildren. The program is being implemented based on district-level data on poverty and nutrition. It will now cover over two million school children countrywide,” he added.
Minister Gunawardena also claimed that the over-exaggeration and negative publicity via social media and other initiatives by non-government organisations (NGOs) about malnutrition among children has overweighed some of the proactive measures taken by the Government.