Brighter futures on the menu for China’s rural students

BEIJING, Nov. 4, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A news report from on the Nutrition Improvement Program for Rural Students in Compulsory Education:

Beef and potatoes, stir-fried chayote with meat, scrambled eggs and tomatoes, meat and cucumber soup — these make up today’s lunch at Changtian Elementary School in southwest China’s Guizhou province. Typically, three dishes and one soup form a warm and nutritionally balanced school lunch, giving children the energy they need for their afternoon classes.

However, Changtian Elementary School is by no means unique. In China, nutritious lunches have been provided to rural students in compulsory education for the past 10 years. This long-term effort has recently yielded significant results. Over the past decade, the average height and weight of boys and girls of all ages in rural areas have increased year by year, while rates of stunting and anemia have decreased significantly.

Ten years ago, many students in China’s underdeveloped areas suffered from malnutrition, anemia and other health problems, which in turn impeded their education and future development. To address these concerns, China launched the Nutrition Improvement Program for Rural Students in Compulsory Education in the fall of 2011, providing subsidies for students’ lunches as well as improving students’ dining conditions. Under government plans, local authorities came up with schemes that suit respective local situations. Education and finance departments among other related authorities at all levels have cooperated closely to ensure food safety, improve canteen facilities and offer nutritious meals while considering students’ different eating habits and tastes.

Over the past 10 years, more than 190 billion yuan has been allotted for the nutrition improvement program, enabling over 37 million students to enjoy healthy lunches every year. The decade-long work has made rural students healthier and given them a fairer and better future.

Actually, nutritious lunches are just one part of larger efforts. In recent years, initiatives such as “Shared Classes” and “Famous Schools Hand-in-Hand with Village Schools” have enabled more rural students to take high-quality courses from top schools, thus making education fairer. Thanks to rural revitalization, art education and sports activities are also booming in the countryside. More art classes of various forms have made art education more accessible for students in rural areas, and more schools have been furnished with teaching facilities such as dance studios and soccer fields. All these have also helped open up a whole new world for more and more rural students and planted the seeds for them to achieve their dreams.

From nutritious school lunches to a more varied and higher-quality curriculum, all these efforts reflect China’s care for its children and rural areas. “Growing taller, stronger and healthier” is just a starting point as we look forward to even greater success in the coming decade.

China Mosaic
Brighter futures on the menu for China’s rural students