When Sue Wildish took a trip through a KFC drive-through in Gauteng with her nieces and nephews, little did she know it would lead her to one of the most powerful partnerships the Lunchbox Fund, a feeding scheme she heads up in South Africa, has made to date.
“When we were about to pay, the cashier asked me if I wanted to ‘Add Hope’. I didn’t understand what she meant, but she kindly took the time to tell me about how my donation would go to feeding children, and I was blown away. After that I made it my duty to find out more. I knew there was a route we could explore together,” Sue recalls.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Wildish successfully applied and one year ago, the Lunchbox Fund became a part of the Add Hope family of NGOs across the country who receive the R2 donations from KFC customers and turn them into meals for children in need. Through these partnerships, Add Hope funds feed an increasing amount of children, and the programme works.
“A pilot study we conducted confirmed that our nutrition has enormous impact on school attendance and on children’s ability to participate during the school day,” says Wildish. “The teachers are heartened, children are more engaged, and the parents are more motivated to register their child and send them to school.”
While investment in children’s development reaps high returns later in life, Wildish says that a worrying number of Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres and schools in South Africa are not receiving sufficient support when it comes to nutrition. “So many children fall way behind at school because of malnutrition and hunger. They have no sense of clarity, struggle with self-esteem and cannot concentrate. Most times they come to school hungry – and leave hungry. There’s still so much that needs to be done to feed children who are hungry to learn.”
The Lunchbox Fund provides fortified meals in ECD centres and government schools that the National School Nutrition Program does not reach, ‘after-school’ homework assistance projects and learner skills development programs. “Our goal is to uphold a child’s right to a basic education; we believe no child should be kept from learning by hunger or household food insecurity,” says Wildish.
As the partnership with Add Hope moves into a second year and grows to fund further provinces the Lunchbox Fund is active in, Wildish is excited about the future. “When I first joined The Lunchbox Fund, I spent most of my time simply seeking like-minded organisations and donors to collaborate. Add Hope is unique as it provides an easy way for everyone to contribute. Getting involved is the only way we’re going to turn things around for children, giving them hope to be educated and dare to dream of a future without poverty. We’re excited to be growing our partnership with Add Hope to do just that.”