Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (November 22, 2022) – Primary school children in 124 schools across the Kyrgyz Republic will receive critical nourishment in their formative years through locally produced kefir during the 2022-2023 school year. This is made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, implemented by Mercy Corps.
Mercy Corps will purchase a total of 141,000 liters of kefir from local producer Belaya Reka LLC that will be delivered to primary schools in four oblasts: 19 schools in Chui, 26 schools in Jalal-Abad, 64 schools in Osh and 15 schools in Batken. Each Kyrgyzstani student will receive 40 grams of kefir daily, which will supply nutrients such as calcium, bifidobacterium, and other proteins important for healthy development. Over the course of five years, the Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program is committed to working with the local diary producers to supply kefir to more than 400 schools.
“Mercy Corps’ programs support local businesses by connecting them with schools, which become target markets for their produce. This cooperation creates sustainable demand for healthy food items for kids and contributes to the local economy,” says Elena Buryan, Mercy Corps’ Country Director. Local producers and suppliers must follow requisite food safety and reporting standards to be eligible.
During the program’s 2022-2023 school year, in addition to food commodities, the first 124 participating schools will benefit from kitchen renovations and new equipment to prepare hot meals for their students. The program is also rehabilitating the schools’ water and sanitation infrastructure to ensure the health and safety of students and teachers. And school personnel and parents will receive training critical to improving the diet, health, and nutrition of Kyrgyzstani children.
Mercy Corps is an international non-governmental organization that has worked in the Kyrgyz Republic since 1994. Mercy Corps has been implementing the USDA McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program in the Kyrgyz Republic since 2012. The new round of the five-year program runs from 2021-2026. Over the course of five years, the USDA Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program will reach more than 400 schools and 100,000 children across the Kyrgyz Republic’s six provinces. For more information please visit: https://www.fas.usda.gov/programs/mcgovern-dole-food-education-program
Aziza Kochkonbaeva, Communications Unit