Many children in rural Mozambique go to school with an empty stomach. Families often do not have enough means to provide their children with a lunch or a coin or two to buy a snack during the day. In fact, many Mozambican families cannot afford to eat more than once a day. Most often, the daily meal consists of rice or maize flour porridge called xima and, if lucky, of a stew made of cassava or pumpkin leaves. The nutritional value of these meals is poor, lacking in necessary proteins and micronutrients. Because of this, it is often difficult for children to attend school, let alone focus and thrive.
The Food for Knowledge Project was developed as a way to improve student attendance and academic success by providing a school lunch, and by training teachers and strengthening the capacity of other professionals. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program.
What we did / what we are doing
Launched in 2013, Planet Aid’s Food for Knowledge Project in Mozambique is responding to the complex and interrelated challenges of malnutrition and school performance through a holistic and integrated approach combining interventions in food security, nutrition, and quality primary school education.
Food for Knowledge has been providing 65,000 children in the Maputo Province in Mozambique with a daily school lunch, and has served more than 9 million meals so far.
In addition to the school meals, the project also has been training teachers, conducting community nutrition education, establishing school gardens, building school kitchens and sanitation facilities, and strengthening the capacity within the Government to carry on the program.
The project is being carried out in Mozambique by ADPP, a local development organization, and with assistance from the World Initiative on Soy in Human Health, a program of the American Soybean Association. There are 245 schools in Mozambique participating in the project, as well as thousands of local teachers and community members, and local and national government officials.
To celebrate International School Meals Day 2015, many participating schools in Mozambique will be acknowledging the day in their own unique way. Visit Planet Aid’s website www.planetaid.org to see pictures and videos from the celebrations.
Food for Knowledge has been especially welcomed by parents and by primary school teachers, who have seen a great improvement in both attendance rates and in the attention span of the children. Overall, communities where the project is being implemented are strongly committed to success, and in some cases they have contributed their own resources to further its goals, understanding that they have a key role to play.
In addition to the 9 million meals served, the project has also trained and graduated approximately 3,220 new skilled teachers to work in rural areas of the country, with another 1,988 new teachers currently in training.
The project will continue to prepare daily school meals to the 65,000 children. All total, approximately 35 million meals (nearly 3,600 metric tons of porridge) will be distributed before the project ends.
*UPDATE* For information on additional celebrations that have taken place in Mozambique since International School Meals Day, click here