Caixin
Mar 02, 2011 01:31 PM

Guangxi's Malnourished Children

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(Du'an) - The cupboards are empty and the stoves are off. Twice a day at the Sanzhiyang Elementary School teachers help students stack their tin lunch pails into a steamer. The lunch pails contain only rice, topped off with a handful of soybeans.

Just two years ago, the elementary school located in the Sanzhiyang Township of the Guangxi Zhang Autonomous Region had meals that contained more than grain. But since a change in the food subsidy program changed the transfer of payment from food vouchers to cash deposits in 2009, the school's nearly 400 students no longer have sources of vitamins from meat or vegetables in their daily meals.

In this bucolic mountain valley setting of the Yao Autonomous County of Du'an, children that aren't boarders at the school walk up to half a day to attend classes. Their homes are scattered deep in the mountains.

Local governments have long acknowledged that student nutrition is huge concern. From early 2007 to spring 2009, central government allocated 9.55 billion yuan in subsidies for boarding school students in poor villages in southern and western China, but the funding has not been able to match the steady increase of student enrollment.

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