The Limitations Of School Feeding Schemes

Vol 23 No 2

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Is the government doing enough to counter the food security crisis that is facing South Africa? In 2002, Government introduced a new school feeding scheme or as it is officially called the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP), that aims to foster better quality education by providing the children in schools with regular meals. The schemes also provide an incentive for the children to attend school. Vuzamanzi Primary School in Khayelitsha, Site C, is among the schools benefitting from the program. According to the National School Nutrition Programme 2011/2012 annual report, the programme reached eight million learners in more than 21 000 schools and according to the 2012/2013 annual report the programme reached 9 131 836 learners in 19 383 schools nationally.

These feeding schemes are not a solution to the food security crisis that is facing South Africa. The feeding schemes are not dealing with the root problem which is lack of access to food and economic power to purchase food in many households in South Africa. According to the Daily Maverick, (19 May 2017) 12 million live in extreme poverty. This means there is a problem of a food security shortage that needs to be addressed. Government is in partnership with Tiger Brands and Nestle SA which are capital driven and Tiger Brands is also a major player in the South African food system.

One would expect that the government would put more emphasis on making sure people that live  in poverty stricken communities have access to food. Some of the children leave their households in the morning with empty stomachs knowing they will have something to eat at school. But it ends there, because when school time is over they have to go back home to face the reality of having nothing to eat.

The School feeding scheme is limited because it only places emphasis on schools while poor households  are largely ignored, which is where the problem starts. In South Africa there is a high rate of unemployment which leads to poverty and no access to food, which affects a large number of households. It is natural to expect that the government would create spaces in schools for children to learn about how to produce food and advise them how  to start farming at household level to combat food shortages at home. But little is done on this level.

What is going to happen when it is during the weekend and there is no food at home, especially for those children who are not at school? What are they going to eat? In Vuzamanzi Primary School, Ekasi Project Green is a food garden project that was established by a group of friends in 2014.  The project aims to encourage small-scale farming throughout the townships so that residents can afford to eat healthily and become self-sustaining. The project involves the children from both the school and outside. Ekasi Project Green makes space for the children to learn how to plant and how to take care of the garden. It does not only end there because they are also encouraged to start food gardens in their backyards spaces and so produce their  own fresh vegetables. The elderly are also welcomed to participate in the process. The project also provides seedlings and manure to people who are interested in learning to farm. In that way the project is enabling the community to implement food sovereignty to cover food security.

Food sovereignty is basically people controlling their own food system and agricultural practices. But it is vital to not only look at food sovereignty in terms of production but also in terms of social, economic, environment and political aspects. Food security on one side means having food. But how is the food produced? What kind of  food? How is the farmer treated? These are some of the question we should ask when interrogating food security.  In that way people can create their own little economies in their communities where they can create local markets at community level. People can use the money to buy other things they need in their households.

The solution to the problem of food security needs to be tackled on the basis of a bottom up approach. People need to be involved and also we need to understand the broader politics not only just the food aspect but the land question. We need to have a new system which include everyone and not to oppress and exploit people. We need a people’s government that should be involved in the process because such a government is one that can implement such policies. Government should make land, infrastructure and water available for the communities to be able to produce food for themselves.