School feeding scheme a worldwide safety net

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Pretoria – School feeding schemes plays a vital role in education and have been recognised as the world’s most widely-used safety net.

The Department of Basic Education joined the African Union (AU) and United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in celebrating Africa Day of School Feeding on Wednesday, 1 March.

Themed “Home Grown School Feeding: Investment in Youth and Children for Harnessing the Demographic Dividend”, this year’s Africa Day of School Feeding was designed to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, by improving the education, health and nutrition status of school children.

Home-Grown School Feeding involves local farmers in producing food that is purchased for use in school meals, maximizing the benefits for students, farmers and local communities.

The department said Africa Day for School Feeding was instituted by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government during the 26th African Union Summit in January 2016, in recognition of the role that Home Grown School Feeding plays in enhancing retention and performance of children in school, and in boosting income generation in local communities.

“The National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) in South Africa caters for primary school and secondary school pupils, providing daily hot meals to over nine million children in all nine provinces. Each meal served contains protein, starch and a fresh vegetable,” said the department.

The department also launched the National School Deworming Programme (NSDP) for the first time in February 2016, reaching five million learners in quintile 1 to 3 primary schools in improving health and wellbeing. 

The NSNP embarks on advocacy and nutrition education campaigns every year, such as National Nutrition Week, World School Milk Day and also through workshops.

“Every day, 370 million children around the world receive food at school provided by their governments. More than half the children are assisted worldwide by WFP with school meals in Africa.

“School meals encourage attendance and reduce drop-outs, keeping children well-nourished, focused and healthy, ensuring they become productive adults.”

WFP is working with the South African government on a study commissioned by the AU to document the impact of school feeding in AU member states.

The department said this study will be the entry point for discussing the next steps in scaling up and improving school feeding programmes in Africa.

“The NSNP is a leading safety net programme in southern Africa. Both WFP and the South African government are committed to sharing technical knowledge and best practices from this programme with the wider region.” - SAnews.gov.za

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