Japan has donated 388 tonnes of canned worth 300 million yen (519 million rupees_ for Sri Lanka’s school meals scheme for the next two years, which is supported by the World Food Program.
The canned fish came from areas Sri Lanka had supported during an earthquake and tsunami.
Kitamura Toshihiro, Charge d’Affaires ad interim of Japan to Sri Lanka recalled Sri Lanka’s donation of cash and tea during the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in March 2011.
“The canned fish provided by Japan is sourced from the areas supported by Sri Lanka, as an extension of the continuous supply provided by Japan, reflecting our appreciation of our Sri Lankan friends for lending a hand to Japan in times of need,” he was quoted as saying after an exchange of documents.
“We will continue to support Sri Lanka, in the spirit of unity and solidarity in our joint battle against the effects of Covid-19”.
The WFP has been supporting schools meals in Sri Lanka since 2003. It had been disrupted by school closures during the Covid-19 lockdowns.
Canned fish is given twice a week to expand the diversity of meals and provide protein.
“Nutritious meals are the foundation to good health, especially for children,” Andrea Berardo, WFP Deputy Country Director in Sri Lanka said.
“This generous contribution from Japan comes at a crucial time when so many Sri Lankan families are hard hit by COVID-19 with reduced incomes and job loss.”
The 388 tonnes of canned fish is enough to prepare 19 million meals, rich in protein, for 270,000 school children.
Japan, which has supported the program through WFP from 2011 had given 1,500 metric tonnes of canned fish worth 1 billion yen up to now.
“The Government of Sri Lanka has been conducting the National School Meal Programme for several decades,” Secretary of the Ministry of Education, N.H.M. Chitrananda said.
“The programme was developed with the objective of ensuring that children are healthy and can optimally benefit from educational opportunities provided to them.
“We are thankful to the Government of Japan and WFP for providing canned fish to supplement the school meal programme and for supporting us in enhancing the nutritional status of school children.”