As the children come from the poorest families, predominantly the families of disabled war veterans, it is difficult for the children to have enough food to eat at home. Especially difficult is eating good sources of protein and vitamins, as these foodstuffs are expensive.
Following an assessment in 2011, the school decided to provide extra nutrition for the children from kindergarten through to grade 8. Also "plumpy nut", a French-designed food supplement bar, is provided to 55 children who need extra nutrients (HIV positive children plus a few who are significantly underweight for their height and age).
In each school year, a total of about 1,060 students are supported, 5 days a week for 40 weeks of the year. The cost of this programme covers the provision of milk, boiled egg, banana and orange (or other high vitamin C fruit in season) on a daily basis, in rotation. The cost also includes the employment of 4 cooks, as well as materials and fuel for cooking.
The plumpy nut bars are cut in half and half a bar is given to each of the 55 beneficiaries, each evening before they go home, in the student welfare director’s office, to ensure that they eat them, and that they have some privacy.
The total cost of the programme is close to SFr1.00 per student per week, a total of SFr 40,000 per year.
The food programme is supported by 2 donors, of which Soliterra Viva contributes CHF 10,000 for each of 2 years, this is 25% of the cost of the programme for one year, equivalent to providing the food for the 6 kindergarten classes each year.
Since we started the programme in 2011, we have seen a sustained improvement in the children’s health and energy levels.
With respect to health, the children have very few skin diseases and fungal infections. A lot less days of school are lost to sickness, especially the children are more resistant to coughs and colds.
With respect to energy levels, the students are attentive in class, are able to concentrate for longer periods of time and are getting better test scores as a result. The number of cases of anaemia has fallen and the children are bright-eyed and happy.
Furthermore, our sports results are improving, and when in competition with other schools our students are winning a lot of the time, simply because the students have more energy and stamina. Our sports teachers are also delighted.