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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Eastern Cape learners ‘crying from hunger’ after school nutrition scheme fails to deliver meals

Eastern Cape learners ‘crying from hunger’ after school nutrition scheme fails to deliver meals
Community members prepare food for children in Klipplaat as part of the school feeding scheme. (Photo: Donna van der Watt)

Teachers in the Eastern Cape have reported that children were crying from hunger in class after the National School Nutrition Programme failed to provide more than a million learners with a daily meal.

The Eastern Cape Department of Education has promised that payment for school nutrition schemes will be made by Tuesday, 9 May, after more than a million children were left without a daily meal at school since 12 April because of an administrative delay. 

The Democratic Alliance’s Yusuf Cassim said the party had received information that the delay in the verification of pupils receiving food was caused by staff shortages and load shedding.

“For many children, the food they receive from their school nutrition programme is often the only meal they receive each day. When schools are unable to feed them, it places an additional burden on families already buckling under the weight of the cost-of-living crisis we are facing.

“There are currently 3,056 quintile 1-3 primary schools and an additional 1,815 quintile 1-3 secondary schools that have been affected.

“As a result, since reopening on 12 April 2023, these schools across the province have been battling to feed children as they have not received the necessary funds,” said Cassim.

He said he would request that the Education Committee in the Eastern Cape Legislature summon Education MEC Fundile Gade and his department to explain why this was allowed to happen.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Food paste to the rescue: Plain rice the only meal a day for malnourished kids in Eastern Cape 

In his policy speech, the MEC for education in the province, Fundile Gade said the National School Nutrition Programme aimed to enhance learning capacity and promote access to quality education by providing nutritious meals to learners in the province’s poorest schools. 

The programme is funded through a conditional grant of R1-billion.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Seven children starve to death, others fight for their lives while malnutrition ravages Eastern Cape

A second programme, which provides the most vulnerable learners also with breakfast, was introduced in 2019. Initially, it fed about 9,000 children but this has grown to more than a million as the levels of poverty in the province increase. 

Corene Conradie from Gift of the Givers said they had been inundated with requests from school nutrition schemes for food assistance in the past month.

“We try to help as many people as we can with what we have,” she said.

She said learners in some towns in the province were leaving school to beg on the streets for food. She said Gift of the Givers had made bulk food deliveries to schools that asked for help.

Read more in Daily Maverick: KZN schools send hungry pupils home as National School Nutrition Programme fails to deliver

Glenda Brunette from Walmer Angels said they too were inundated with requests for food and children come to eat at their two soup kitchens in the afternoons. DM/MC

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Change for the better is really so simple.

    Enough is enough. Vote DA.

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    Every parent in the Eastern Cape should be voting the disgusting ANC out of office next year. There is zero competence in that administration, just greed, corruption, cadre deployment and an arrogant, seething hatred of the poor who get in the way of the trough-swilling elite, from the Premier’s Office to the smallest councils in rural EC. The ANC has pummeled that beautiful province into the ground through its criminal behaviour. Time for change!

  • Mervyn Bennun says:

    Oh, I am _so_ proud to be a South African! And as the children haven’t eaten, they won’t be in danger of drowning in their schools’ pit toilets that might collapse under them!

  • Allan Wolman Wolman says:

    This is not the first report of children going hungry. Children dying from malnutrition, is a common occurrence in the most advanced economy on the continent. But so comforting to see the ANC ministers from the president down looking so well and most overfed, hiding behind their bling and luxury cars that the cost of their sheer indulgence could feed hundreds of thousands of starving children. Do they even know or care?

  • Cobus vdM says:

    Take the funds that will be used to change place names and feed the children. A hungry person does not care what the ruling party want to call places.

  • Alan Jones says:

    Perhaps the MEC and staff should have their salaries “suspended” until such time as the children receive their meals!

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