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close this bookReaching Mothers and Children at Critical Times of their Lives (WFP)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAssessment of critical food needs
View the documentProgramme objectives
View the documentTargeting
View the documentFood strategy
View the documentCosts and benefits
View the documentCommitment and partnership
View the documentSustainability and phasing out
View the documentCritical food needs during crisis and rehabilitation

Food strategy

26. WFP provides a variety of food rations in supplementary feeding programmes. Most of the time, commodities include a basic cereal/pulse combination and edible oil. The nutritive value of a ration for expectant and nursing mothers varies from 300 to more than 1,200 kilocalories a day. Rations for malnourished children are designed in line with recommended feeding norms. Most expectant and nursing mothers receive assistance for one year or less. Therapeutic feeding of severely malnourished children lasts up to 90 days; food assistance for moderately malnourished children is provided for four months to a year.

27. Food-insecure people are also at risk of micronutrient deficiencies. Fortification of commodities with one or more micronutrients is a cost-effective approach to provide these essential nutrients. The actual cost of vitamin A, iron or iodine fortification is minimal, at most a small percentage of the commodity price. But fortification has implications for shelf-live and quality control.

28. Low-cost blended foods are fortified with essential micronutrients and are therefore well suited for the food basket of MCH interventions. In addition, they are easy to prepare (short cooking time), which lessens the household burden for mothers. More than half of the WFP-assisted supplementary feeding projects include a blended food. WFP assists countries to build national capacities in producing low-cost, safe and micronutrient-fortified blended foods. In addition, it will continue to support projects that encourage beneficiaries to grow the specific ingredients and prepare the weaning foods themselves. The local production of appropriate weaning foods can contribute to sustainable improvements in household food security and nutrition.

29. There are two ways in which supplementary food assistance can be provided: on-site feeding (normally in health centres) and take-home rations. These alternatives have marked trade-offs between the level of food resource required and administrative efficiency:

  • on-site feeding is effective in ensuring that the food is actually consumed by the target population, but it is time-consuming and costly for both the institution and the recipients and is normally practical only for cases of therapeutic feeding;
  • take-home rations are easier to administer, but because of anticipated sharing, food rations need to be at least double what is required for on-site feeding.

30. The majority of WFP food assistance is provided as a take-home ration. On-site feeding tends to be limited to cases of rehabilitation of severely malnourished children and to feeding of vulnerable under-fives attending day-care centres.

31. Potential negative effects such as disincentives and market displacement tend not to be an issue in food interventions that target malnourished or at-risk people because they are most likely to result in additional consumption. WFP uses locally produced foods procured through local purchases or commodity exchanges, importing only those commodities that are not produced in sufficient quantities in the recipient countries. FAO advice is regularly obtained in this regard.

  • WFP will strengthen its efforts in assisting recipient countries to locally produce and market inexpensive, micronutrient-fortified blended foods.
  • Food baskets for supplementary feeding interventions will be micronutrient-fortified to the extent possible.