We are presently introducing a School Feeding initiative targeting Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDs) or Preschools. The initiative is being run on a trial basis at two school centres with a population of 270 children within the age range of 3-6 years old. The ECD centres/schools have, traditionally, served a snack that consists largely of maize flour – a meal that lacks adequate nutrients to address the critical nutritional needs of this age group and the malnourishment from which most of these children suffer.
To improve the nutrient content of this snack (which sometimes is even being diluted), we have introduced a soya-maize premix flour in the schools. This provides the children not only with micronutrients, but also with vital protein in their diet, which they would otherwise lack. We have trained the centres’ teachers and cooks on preparation of the soya-maize premix, which is intended to provide at least 30 percent of the daily caloric requirements, as well as a significant protein provision. To ensure sustainable availability of the soya, parents of children attending the two schools are already being trained in soya production methods. (Go to ‘Intervention: Soya Project’ to read more on the benefits of soya cultivation).
Based on the success of the pilot project, we plan to roll the School Feeding Initiative out to an additional 30 schools in 2018. We are also planning to add Vitamin A enriched Banana flour to the mix, as well as Amaranth. Through this project, not only is the children’s nutrition being improved, but it also provides an opportunity to engage the parents with education on agriculture and nutrition.