More than seven years ago, the Tiger Brands Foundation’s in-school breakfast programme started serving a hot, cooked nutritious breakfast meal to learners in no-fee paying schools.
The programme is a public private partnership with the Department of Basic Education, and was piloted in 2011 at six schools in Alexandra township in Johannesburg, where it served meals to a few hundred learners.
“Today we are pleased to announce that we serve breakfast every school day to about 67 500 learners at 94 schools in all nine provinces around the country,” says Eugene Absolom, Director at the Tiger Brands Foundation.
The Foundation was set up by the Tiger Brands Group as a special purpose BEE vehicle, and is funded through a bi-annual trickle dividend from the company.
The Tiger Brands Foundation breakfast initiative constitutes more than providing a nutritious breakfast to learners. “Meals are designed by nutritionists to ensure they meet the nutritional needs of growing young minds, as well as addressing some of the main health challenges in vulnerable communities,” says Absolom.
Studies by the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA) show that the impact of the programme is far reaching. Speaking at a CSDA forum, research psychologist, Dr Madri Jansen van Rensburg, from Resilience Analysis Consulting, said the benefits of the programme extended beyond the learners themselves and into entire communities.
Other notable developments associated with the breakfast programme, according to the CSDA studies conducted, indicate positive health outcomes such as lower rates of obesity, as well as improved educational outcomes.
The Foundation’s mandate is to have a broad based socio-economic impact in vulnerable communities and to this end, it has renovated or built 38 school kitchens in order for meals to be prepared in a more hygienic environment. The Foundation pays a stipend to over 300 volunteer food handlers .
Absolom says most volunteers are parents from schools surrounding communities and their tasks include preparation, cooking and serving breakfast daily. “In keeping with our education, the food handlers are provided with denim aprons and mop hats and they receive training in food storage, hygiene and preparation,” he says. “We have also developed a risk management and quality framework that enables quality food products to move from the point of manufacture, to school kitchens, and ultimately into the stomachs of learners’, with minimal risk of non-delivery or food contamination.”
The food handlers receive training that is accredited by the Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Sector Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA), enabling them to secure employment outside the Foundation’s programme.
Last year, the Foundation celebrated serving its 50 millionth meal and by the end of July 2018, the Foundation would have served more than 62 million meals.