Halted feeding scheme affects 300 000 learners

12 May 2020 | Education

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



The suspension of the Namibian School Feeding Programme (NSFP) due to the coronavirus pandemic means over 330 000 learners in 1 400 schools across the country can no longer be fed through the programme.

Many learners, especially those from poorer families, relied heavily on the scheme for their daily meals.

Schools have been closed since the end of March due to the coronavirus outbreak and state of emergency.

The programme covers 80% of children in all pre-primary and primary schools.

Efforts are however being made to ensure that vulnerable learners are provided a much-needed meal while at home, the education ministry's public relations officer Absalom Absalom said.





Lifeline

He said the programme is a lifeline for many Namibian learners.

“It is a significant safety net that addresses hunger especially for food-insecure households and lays emphasis on addressing the health and nutrition of learners through the provision of a diversified nutritious diet, which contributes to their ability to concentrate in class.

“It is no secret that there are learners whose first and last meal of the day is nothing else than a plate of maize blend received at school through the school feeding programme.”

Absalom said with the opening of schools for the first term of the 2020 academic year, nine of the country's 14 regions had procured a maize blend to ensure learners have food to eat when schools reopened.



Food parcels

According to Absalom, other regions were in the process of procuring the maize blend for the first term, however, the abrupt closure of schools inevitably led to the temporary suspension of the programme.

“This meant that the maize blend in stock could not be consumed completely as intended. Therefore, to avoid food going to waste due to approaching expiry dates while schools remain closed, and to ensure the distribution of food to learners that depend on this meal during this period, the exco endorsed the distribution of maize blends and food items in hostels to the communities by way of rationing (food parcels). This process is currently underway in all regions.”



Programme to resume

“The programme runs concurrently with the academic calendar and will resume when schools reopen,” he said.

Absalom added that the ministry is appealing to the private sector, particularly the business community, to support schools and supplement the meal offered to children.

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