We are delighted to announce that, in response to an appeal made by the Chris Otto Foundation, 181 of the 660 learners who attend Zonnebloem Boy’s and Girls’ Primary Schools joined our feeding programme during January this year. These learners affected by extreme poverty, now receive a daily cooked breakfast and lunch lovingly prepared by our volunteer food preparers, Gail Fish and Imaan Van Schoor-Adams at the schools newly renovated kitchen. Gail and Imaam are also mommies of learners at these schools. These schools are located on the Zonnebloem College Estate, an educational complex founded in 1858 by the Anglican Church.
Before joining our feeding programme, the Chris Otto Foundation, a small philanthropic organisation that supports these schools, informally interviewed many of the children and they were told that their only real meal of the day is dinner, consisting mainly of maize porridge, although some do not get dinner regularly either. Until the end of last year many children did not get breakfast in the morning and only ate at school if a friend or teacher was kind enough to share their food with them.
One Grade 4 boy from Khayelitsha told the Foundation that he only drinks a cup of coffee at 4:30am before getting on the taxi for school and then has his first meal again at 5pm when he and his mother get home. Another boy from Crossroads told the Foundation that he does not eat at all before school and at break-time buys cheap junk food (white bread and polony) from the tuckshop. Another boy from Mfuleni, whose shack home burnt down in December, says dinner no longer happens every night, because his single mother is unemployed – he now relies on PSFA’s feeding programme for food during the daytime.
During teacher interviews many stories were recounted of teachers bringing extra sandwiches from home for their hungriest pupils last year, and many reported that hunger was a major factor contributing to lack of concentration in the classroom.
Karen Breytenbach who is the project director at the Chris Otto Foundation said “the best news is that the children’s teachers and even the school counsellors from NGO CommunityKeepers.org who counsel many of the children for personal issues, are already reporting that the children are starting to do better at school and flourishing more on a personal level. We can’t wait to measure the success of the feeding programme six months and a year down the line.”