The school feeding programme in Vietnam is now reaching around 300,000 children, with the support of Tetra Pak and our customer Vinamilk. Tetra Pak Communications Manager Ta Bao Long explains how the programme works, and how it is benefiting the recipients.
The programme is jointly funded by provincial government, our customer Vinamilk and parents from the schools involved. It’s been running for seven years and operates in three provinces – Ba Ria Vung Tau, Bac Ninh and Dong Nai. The set-up is slightly different in each, but essentially the programme is giving more than 300,000 kindergarten and primary school children a 180ml Tetra Brik® Aseptic carton of milk, three or four days a week. This helps combat malnutrition and encourages healthy growth.
All three are relatively well developed, with a large number of industrial zones. Economic growth has allowed each of the provinces to establish a solid infrastructure that, overall, provides good education and healthcare for children. However, growth has been unequal, and the gap between rich and poor is widening. Particularly in the more remote areas of these provinces, there are still many groups of people living below UN poverty standards.
The milk is supplied by our customer, Vinamilk, and the programme is implemented by the provincial-level government departments for education and training.
Very successful. The distribution process is working well, and around 300,000 children are now benefiting. This follows a big expansion of the programme in 2013 when Bac Ninh province joined. Interest levels from other provinces continue to rise: in fact, since 2013, we have received more requests for information from other provinces than in the previous six years combined. Of course, the real success will be seen over time, in terms of the health of future generations.
Sure. Figures from one of the provinces involved, Ba Ria Vung Tau, show that the malnutrition rate for children aged three to five fell from 15.6% in 2007 to 3.7% in 2014. And school attendance is rising by an average of 3000 children per year – double the rate they were seeing before the programme started.
Up to now, our focus has been very much on ensuring the programme runs safely and smoothly. Any problems with food safety, or fraud and corruption, would jeopardize the reputation of the programme, and discourage new provinces from getting involved. To that end, we work very closely with the provincial governments throughout programme set-up to make sure they follow our guidelines and standards.
We want the programme to expand, reaching more provinces and more children. So this year, for example, some second grade students in Dong Nai province will get school milk, as well as all the first-graders. We’re also currently working on proposals with three other provinces, with the aim of piloting at least one of them from the start of the 2015-2016 school year in September. If everything goes according to plan, the programme will reach another 100,000 children. This is really where my role comes in, helping provincial authorities develop proposals and project plans, raising awareness of the programme and training local officials and teachers how to carry out the programme in their schools.
Obviously, it’s very satisfying for our staff to feel we are playing a part in contributing to the health of future generations. It also raises awareness of our products, and our capacity to support the safe distribution of milk and other fresh products. But I think it also strengthens partnerships with our customers. We work incredibly closely with Vinamilk across the whole project cycle, and provide a level of support that I think is unique.
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