Food garden Picture : Tshabalira Lebakeng
Job loss was one key impacts of COVID-19, many of those who are now unemployed are parents. Even though many get child support grants, it’s not enough to feed their children for the whole month.
Children have a right to nutrition according to the Constitution. Nutrition is needed so that children may grow well, physically and mentally. But due to increased unemployment levels, more parents struggle to meet their children's nutritional need.
Many children go to school hungry.
Hungry children are a problem in South Africa. From the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town. Even before COVID-19, "a result of COVID-19 and 22% of adults and 15% of children were reported to have gone to bed hungry during the period March to June 2020". Prolonged hunger, particularly early in life, causes stunted growth, which has not decreased significantly in the last 40-years in South Africa, despite the political changes.
A lack of nutrition means children do not develop well. They will suffer malnutrition, they will often get sick and lose focus in the class. Principal of Qhoboshiane Primary School, Nthabiseng Molefe had experienced this at her school. "If they don’t have food, they won’t do well at school and their activities," she said.
“We have 25 kids that are getting food from our food programme,” asid Mrs Molefe. The school provides breakfast, lunch, and different meals each day. They even offer fruits on good days. Some of the children only eat two meals a day.
When possible, food is sent home with children too. “Because they don’t have something to eat after school. We are helping them by giving them vegetables from our school garden.” Molefe said.
Pressure falls on school teachers as they have to deal with non-developing children. Teachers sometimes say they want to help, but they wouldn’t know where to start. At Qhoboshiane Primary School, the feeding scheme, helps by providing needy children with food and vegetables parcels.
There school is happy about the results of the feeding scheme. Not only are children better able to concentrate, learners don’t skip school any more, because of this initiative.