The Irish company has released details of its partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP), Project Leche, part of its ‘Towards 2020’ sustainability programme.
"Our Kerry nutritionists and our agriculturalists will work alongside the project team in Honduras to improve efficiencies in terms of dairy production, to enhance the quality and value of dairy products, and in turn, and most importantly, to improve the nutritional value of the Home Grown School Meals Programme," said Frank Hayes, director of corporate affairs at Kerry Group.
Kerry Group is also donating $750,000 (€688,000) in financial support for the project.
"Kerry group are providing financial support of $750,000 which will be used to fund the pilot project and based on the findings and on the project output it is hoped that the project can be expanded and that the findings will be used to inform the entire Home Grown School Meals Programme in Honduras," said Hayes.
The three-year programme will focus on nutritional enhancement of school meals for children in Honduras, by using sustainably-produced dairy products.
Kerry Group says it will be using its dairy heritage and expertise to work directly alongside the WFP, as well as local Honduran communities and national stakeholders, in order to support farmers in the production of safe and sustainable dairy products.
"It will benefit the farming and milk supplying community in terms of bringing greater efficiency and greater focus into the available technologies to improve their livelihoods. It is quite a broad-based programme and will boost the income of the smallholding farmers and hopefully provide broader market opportunities for their production," Hayes said.
The Irish food specialists say these dairy products can then be used to bring greater nutritional diversity into school meals.
Prolonged drought, hurricanes and other natural disasters have disrupted Honduras’ food security.
Although the WFP has been supporting Honduran communities since the 1970s, this will be its first partnership with Kerry Group or any other Irish company.
Currently the WFP, working alongside the Honduran government, provides meals to 95% of the country’s total school population.
The Home Grown School Meals programme, managed by the WFP, helps to strengthen local economies by buying from small producers.
Project Leche aims to improve the Home Grown School Meals programme by educating children and parents on nutrition and by adding more dairy into school meals.
"The programme is very much a collaborative programme. It works with various government agencies in the region, in terms of education and nutritional and dietary information. It is very much hoped to raise the level of nutritional awareness amongst the teachers, parents and the children," said Hayes.
Greg Barrow, head of WFP’s United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland office, said: “The World Food Programme is hugely excited to be partnering with Kerry and bringing their expertise on board as we try to add dairy products to the school diet in Honduras”.
“This pilot project in Honduras has great potential and we hope it will set the standard for the integration of dairy products into school meals for the benefit of child nutrition and poor milk producers in other developing countries around the world”.