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International Relief and Development's "Better Foods for Better Lives" Project

The International Relief and Development's (IRD) "better foods for better lives" project focuses on the strengthening of private-sector noodle producers, bread, and soy milk manufacturers to create sustainable job opportunities, and improves the nutritional status of low-income households and school children, says IRD director Adriana Guinand. She says that the program focuses on promoting agricultural and private sector development in developing countries.

Men Sarun Flour Mill for Mee Dara noodle's, director Men Sarun, says that he is happy to cooperate with IRD's project, funded through the U.S.

Department of Agriculture's (USDA) "Food for Progress" program, for local food production especially for children. Mee Dara noodle factory's director Nuong Triv says that his factory produces high quality and high standard noodles.

Snack noodles, bread and soy milk are distributed free of charge to school children, while low-cost fortified instant noodles are marketed at reduced prices to low-income consumers, at 300 riels (local currency) a package (less than 10 cents).

The sales are expected to be about one million 200,000 packages a month. Low-cost fortified noodles called Mee Dara have been produced and marketed since May 2005.

Primary school children are receiving bread, snack noodles, and soy milk every morning as part of IRD's efforts to combat malnutrition and increase school attendance rates. Snack noodle packages, bread and soy milk, fortified with protein have been distributed to poor school children to promote physical health and intellectual capabilities.

U.S. Ambassador Joseph A. Mussomeli in Phnom Penh conducts a familiarization tour to a number of sites Thursday, including Phleung Ches Rotes School.

The IRD's "better foods for better lives" project works with local factories to produce Mee Dara noodles, soy milk, and breads, fortified with vitamins and minerals, distributed free to 8,500 primary school children every morning at 31 schools, in 6 cities and provinces.

Ambassador Mussomeli says: "This program that we see today is a unique one that addresses the problems in different ways rather than giving medical check ups or vitamin supplements.

This is working in a more organic way to ensure the health of the children." In a wooden classroom filled with about 40 students attending classes, some students say that the snacks provided to them give them health benefits, and promote their will to go to class regularly, and that they like them very much, they taste very good, that they stimulate their thinking, and that they have received such snacks for almost a year now.