One in every two learners across the globe receive school meals every day in at least 161 countries, according to the World Food Programme’s State of School Feeding Worldwide 2020. This ratio equates to about 388 million children worldwide relying on feeding programmes.
In South Africa alone, about nine million learners are fed by the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP at school every day, said Tiger Brands Foundation’s (TBF) Director, Eugene Absolom. The NSNP programme aims at improving the ability of children to learn by combating malnutrition, reducing hunger and improving school attendance. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic which brought on school closures, school feeding scheme programmes were brought to halt.
“South Africa’s NSNP was also temporarily suspended during the country’s initial hard lockdown, which brought into stark contrast the importance of school nutrition programmes as a social safety net, protecting the well-being of the country’s most vulnerable children,” said Absolom.
The Tiger brands director said in a post-Covid-19 world, nutrition programmes are even more of a priority investment, as they not only support the learner, but also the learning process, helping to build a healthy and educated population.
He said it was up to stakeholders such as Tiger Brands Foundation to provide assistance to sustain and enhance the resilience of nutrition, through a new generation of school nutrition programmes that are more cost-efficient and more environmentally-sensitive. Meals are designed by nutritionists to ensure they meet the nutritional needs of growing young minds, as well as addressing some of the main health challenges in vulnerable communities,” he said.
Absolom explained that nourishing young growing minds should remain a priority, and partnerships such as these are key to expanding free in-school breakfast provision, which is central to driving recovery from the severe adverse socio-economic impacts of Covid-19.