BEIJING, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- A free lunch program for rural students has been recognized by international organizations, according to a statement released by the Education Ministry on Monday.
The government's program has benefited more than 26 million students within a very short time, according to a paper written by a study group made up of staff from the World Bank, the World Food Programme of the United Nations and a children's organization, according to the statement.
The study group visited five schools in the underdeveloped areas of Guangxi and Qinghai and held seminars with local education authorities and experts.
The group unanimously agreed that the program had produced good results, the statement said.
China started the program last fall to improve the diets of rural students. The program has an annual budget of 16 billion yuan (2.55 billion U.S. dollars) and benefits 26 million primary and middle school students in 680 rural counties, each of whom get a free lunch worth 3 yuan at school each day.
The program has been well received among students and will improve their nutrition, the study group was quoted as saying in the statement.