Ensuring full tummies for back to school kids

Ensuring full tummies for back-to-school kids

Date published: 15 Jan 2018

Ensuring full tummies for back-to-school kids

The recently released South African Child Gauge 2017 report tells us that the number of children living below food poverty stands at 5.5 million, which equates to more than half of South Africa’s children living in poverty.  And, according to The South African Demographic Health Survey, 27% of children under five are stunted.  Stunted growth is a strong marker of severe malnutrition that has proven to impair cognitive development. 

Thabisa Mkhwanazi, the KFC Public Affairs Director for Africa and champion of the company’s Add Hope initiative, which harnesses R2 public donations and Corporate Social Responsibility funds to fight hunger, says that these figures serve as a worrying prediction for nation’s children. “Beyond having an impact on cognitive development, being hungry each day has been seen to lead to feelings of anxiety and withdrawal from social interaction.”

Additionally, she says, there is strong evidence that children who are not adequately nourished are at risk of falling behind their school peers.  “Unfortunately, these hungry children who fall behind early on often struggle to catch up to their peers throughout their school careers.  Ultimately, this will have a profound affect on a young adult’s future prospects.”
 
Mkhwanazi says that the onset of the school year is a critical moment in the lives of our kids.  “Each child should have the opportunity to enter school adequately nourished so as to be able to engage, learn and positively interact both in the classroom and playground settings from day one.”
 

Add Hope supports over 138 NGOs that are dedicated to ensuring just that by providing meals to 120 000 children across South Africa. A growing list of 138 organisations across South Africa strive daily, meal by meal, to equip pre-schoolers and school goers – and even their families - with the nutrition they need to succeed.

Mkhwanazi says that each child who indicates positive growth is viewed as a long-term win.  Thirteen year-old Caroline Paul is a smart young girl from impoverished circumstances. Supported by organisation Africa Food for Thought in Soweto (AFFT), Caroline was fed daily at her local primary school by AFFT who also provided her family with food parcels.  Caroline soon displayed strong potential and through AFFT’s intervention, was offered a bursary to board at St Mary’s School in Waverley, Johannesburg.  AFFT continues to provide her family with food parcels and Caroline is going from strength to strength, maintaining a good academic record and playing sport at provincial level.
 
Mkhwanazi says that the private sector and civil society are playing a key role in providing nutritional interventions for South African kids. “South Africa’s primary healthcare budget has a meagre 0.5% dedicated allocation towards nutrition which makes it critical for intensive support beyond what government is providing. Caroline is a bright young star with a powerful story, but for every Caroline there are thousands of other stories quietly unfolding.  We need to ensure that each of these children have full tummies at school so that they can fulfil their promise as the 2018 school year kicks off.”
 
ENDS
 
www.addhope.co.za

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