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Reports of student eating coconut kernel unfounded: PMD

The President’s Office yesterday (22) dismissed the “unfounded” reports circulated on newspapers and social media channels about an incident where a student had consumed coconut kernel for lunch due to poverty.

Accordingly, Minuwangoda Regional Director Vajira Ranaraja and Gampaha District Secretary W.S. Satyananda had called for information regarding this incident from the Divulapitiya Divisional Secretary, Director of Divulapitiya Education Division of the Minuwangoda Education Zone, and Principal of the Kongodamulla St. Anthony’s Junior College, as well as the Grama Niladhari Officer and Development Officer where the student resides, and confirmed that such an incident had not been reported, the President’s Media Division (PMD) said.

“However, in view of the current economic situation in the country, if any child, person, or family is in this situation anywhere in the country, a special programme has already been implemented for them at the Divisional Secretariat level and District Secretariats.”

On the special instructions of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, a Food Security Programme Unit has been established at the President’s Office and information can be provided by contacting the unit on their hotlines 0114354647 or 0114354354 and extension number 5705/5707, the PMD said further in its statement.

Samurdhi recipient families with more than five members, families with disabled and people with chronic illnesses, poverty-stricken families with children below five years, families without a husband or wife, families with pregnant and lactating mothers, and poverty-stricken families who have not even received primary education and are facing severe food insecurity have been identified as criteria for providing assistance under the World Food Programme (WFP).

Accordingly, it is possible to provide Rs.15,000 monthly under the WFP for such families through Grama Niladhari Officers and Divisional Secretaries, according to the PMD. These funds will be provided to them for the first three months and a food programme will be implemented for another six months.

In addition to this, the Government has taken steps to provide a monthly allowance of Rs. 10,000, to 61,000 poverty-stricken families for a period of six months.

If there are families that are not included in any of these programmes and are suffering from lack of food, there is a possibility of providing food for them on short-term basis, and they should make a request through the Grama Niladhari Officers, Divisional Secretaries, or the Food Security Programme Unit of the Presidential Secretariat.

In addition, if there are families with malnourished children, a study will be conducted and food aid programmes will be implemented for such families through programmes such as the parental guardian system implemented by the Government.

Further, schoolteachers can also intervene and forward information about families suffering from lack of food to the Food Security Programme, and those who are willing and able to help such families also have the opportunity to get involved and contribute. 

Apart from that, Grama Niladhari Officers and Divisional Secretaries have the opportunity to contact the Food Security Programme and coordinate the implementation of these programmes, the PMD said further.