The World Food Programme said yesterday that it has begun to cut the provision of school meals to some of the world's poorest children as the global crisis over food prices worsens.
Josette Sheeran, the WFP's executive director, said that the price of basic foods was rising so rapidly that a shortfall in financing for its food relief programmes had grown from $500m (about £250m) to $755m in less than two months.
About $300m has been pledged so far by donor countries to fill the WFP's financing gap, including $60m offered by Britain yesterday, to coincide with an experts' conference on the crisis at Downing Street, and €60m (about £48m) from the European commission.
However, the new money is too late to maintain all of the WFP's operations. A programme providing meals for 450,000 Cambodian children has already been suspended, and Sheeran said that a similar programme in Kenya, serving 1.2 million children, is facing cuts of nearly 50%.
Sheeran said the cutbacks reflected "heartbreaking decisions" forced on the WFP. "We need all the help we can get from the governments of the world who can afford to do so," she said.