Dominican Republic - power of partnerships

The Dominican Republic presents one example of how Tetra Pak Food for Development has developed a public-private partnership in support of the Ministry of Education´s School Feeding Programme (SFP).

We have executed four technical assistance missions, in 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013, where we shared best practices from SFP worldwide.  As part of the support, we have also signed a Letter of Intent with the United Nations World Food Programme in Latin America to strengthen the technical support and share our complementary expertise in school feeding programmes around the world.   We also worked together with LA-RAE (Latin American School Feeding Network).  This collaboration has brought positive synergies supporting not only a mutual learning but also a deeper understanding of each other’s knowledge and capacities.

School children, boy drinking school milk

In June 2011, the World Food Programme sponsored a joint workshop and invited all stakeholders involved in the school feeding programme to actively participate as a team and agree on common goals and actions for improvement.   As a key component of the workshop, the WFP utilized their 8 quality standards in School Feeding Programmes as a common platform to help guide all stakeholders in the process.  

The technical assistance and workshops highlighted the strengths of the programme as well as key areas for improvement.  Some conclusions were the focus on local production and purchasing from local suppliers, enhanced supervision, and the implementation of a systemized software that gathers data to demonstrate the positive impact of the school feeding programme.

As a result, important actions were taken by the Government such as the elaboration of implementation manuals for all of the schools and programme supervisors which provide guidance and tools to ensure the execution of best practices as a common process.  Other notable improvements have been the development of quality control protocols and food safety in the distribution and consumption of the products.  They also began collecting data to demonstrate nutritional impact data and academic improvement related to the programme. Furthermore, programme supervision has been strengthened and more community involvement has been achieved, which was a high priority for the Government.  

Altogether the support has provided more structure and quality control to the programme and made it easier to follow up its effects.  The Ministry of Education has now developed an information system data base for the SFP that will be the tool they will use to manage the entire process.

As a result, in late 2012, the Government approved a law which institutionalizes the programme and guarantees funding for the SFP at a national level under the direction of the National Institute of Student Wellbeing(INABIE).  

As one of the key follow-up actions from the workshop, the Government conducted a baseline study to measure the nutritional impact of the school feeding programme.  The study was conducted by the CENISMI(National Center for Maternal & Infant Scientific Research) in coordination with the INCAP and UN Agencies(WFP, UNICEF, and UNDP).  This study was a major cornerstone of the various recommendations that had been made to the INABIE together through the partnership.  Some of the key results as follows:

  • Anemia reduction from 43.9% to 16.7% for children 6-14 years of age.
  • Chronic malnutrition has been reduced from 19.4% to 1.9%.(i.e. anthropometric data).
  • 12.6% of the children demonstrated lower than normal Vitamin B12 presence.  This is in comparison to the 22% average of children in Latin America.
  • Only 7.2% of the children demonstrated a lower than average Vitamin A presence.
  • A control record for the amount of BCG vaccines was taken.  They also documented the children´s eating habits at home. 
  • 93.6% of the parent-teacher associations interviewed qualified the improvements in the program as positive. 

The Government has published the study in the major newspapers, press releases, and distributed it to the NGOs.

The Ministry of Education’s National Institute of Student Welfare has acknowledged that the World Food Programme and the Tetra Laval Food for Development Office has played a strong role in guiding the changes that have occurred in their school feeding programme since 2007.  As a result  of the impact assessment, the Government has been able to prioritize funding for the school feeding programme which is now the country´s largest social programme.  This cooperation shows the great value of partnerships and knowledge-sharing.

The Dominican Republic’s school breakfast programme now covers 1,473,222 primary school students in 5,145 schools around the country.  The programme is linked to local agriculture production where more than 50 million liters of milk are purchased from dairy farmers.