Rural School Kids Suffer Malnutrition

While childhood obesity expands in China’s cities, many children in impoverished rural areas still suffer from chronic malnutrition and hunger. Lan Fang and Wang Heyan at Caixin Online report that research into the problem has prompted government authorities to implement free-lunch programs for rural schoolchildren.

Some 72 percent of the more than 1,000 students questioned for the China Development Research Foundation (CDRF) survey said they felt grinding hunger while in class. And up to one-third said they went hungry every day.

Schoolboys surveyed in one of the counties – Du’an, in Guangxi Autonomous Region – weighed 10 kilograms less than the rural national average for their gender and age groups. They were also 11 centimeters shorter than average. Girls barely fared better: Researchers found them 7 kilograms underweight, and 9 centimeters shorter than average.

[…] CDRF’s Compulsory Rural Education Students Nutrition Improvement Program, as it’s officially called, started last year as a pilot project. It’s now growing rapidly, with an increasing number of schools cafeterias opening to satisfy hungry students from poor families.

The program’s current spending target is 16 billion yuan a year, or about 3 yuan per day per child, to feed each of 23 million students in about 100,000 rural schools in 680 impoverished counties nationwide. That budget could grow, however, if officials heed calls from some corners for more cafeterias and better food. [Source]

Read more about free lunch programs for China’s “left-behind kids” via CDT.