The Panamanian government will distribute 500,000 U.S.dollars in coupons to families in the country's poorest region to combat malnutrition, according to a government statement released Monday.
The National Secretariat for Food and Nutritional Security said the welfare program will benefit some 9,813 families, mostly in indigenous communities in the central province of Veraguas, the western region of Ngabe-Bugle and some eastern provinces.
Under the program, each family will receive 50 dollars in coupons that can be used for foodstuffs or other basic items, including rice, beans, sugar, coffee, milk, cooking oil, eggs and flour.
Non-edible items include matches, laundry soap, cleaning detergents, toothbrushes and toothpaste.
The coupons could only be used at chain shops set up in the communities by the program.
To be eligible for the program, families with children under six years of age must ensure that their children have received proper vaccines and that their school-age children regularly attend school, while women must receive proper medical attention during pregnancy and undergo regular testing and treatment for female cancers.
Adult beneficiaries of the program, in the meantime, have to receive training in how to grow their own food.