USDA Donates Commodities to Support Mercy Corps Programs

October 2, 2002

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    Classrooms at the Shuhuda Elementary School and other schools across Eritrea have seen more students since Mercy Corps began a school feeding program in March. Photo: Ezra Simon/Mercy Corps Photo:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced the donation of agricultural commodities to support Mercy Corps development programs in Kyrgyzstan, Eritrea, and Lebanon.

The USDA is donating 3,340 metric tons of agricultural commodities to Mercy Corps for use in Kyrgyzstan under the Food for Progress program. The donated commodities include 2,540 tons of soybean oil, 400 tons of wheat flour, 300 tons of rice and 100 tons of dehydrated potatoes.

Mercy Corps will sell 2,400 tons of soybean oil and use the proceeds to support credit programs for micro-lending and small and medium enterprise development. Mercy Corps will also use proceeds to provide small grants to improve rural school infrastructure. Mercy Corps will distribute the remaining commodities to 135 targeted orphanages, kindergartens and boarding schools throughout the Republic of Kyrgyzstan to enhance the nutritional intake of children.

The USDA is also donating 17,300 metric tons of soft white wheat to Mercy Corps for use in Eritrea under the Global Food for Education (GFE) program. Mercy Corps will use the commodities for school feeding and school support programs.

Mercy Corps will sell the white wheat and use the proceeds to buy and distribute high-energy biscuits to about 35,000 primary school students in up to 150 schools. Mercy Corps will also provide small grants to parent-teacher associations (PTAs) to fund practical activities, such as providing school uniforms and offering rewards for girls' attendance and good performance. In addition, funds will be used to help PTA members organize campaigns to promote education for girls, and to help teachers to improve classroom gender equality and teaching methods.

In Lebanon, the USDA is donating 40,000 metric tons of U.S. wheat valued at $5.5 million to Mercy Corps, which will sell the wheat in Lebanon and use the proceeds to address the critical needs of village clusters located within the poorest and most vulnerable areas of Lebanon. The organization's activities will focus on enhancing economic opportunities, improving agricultural production and protecting the environment. Mercy Corps will also use a portion of the proceeds to support activities of the American University of Beirut and the Lebanese American University.