by John Nagiecki, Director of Communications, Planet Aid
Three years ago, Planet Aid and its partners started a new project in Mozambique to provide 65,000 children with a daily school lunch. The project, called Food for Knowledge, is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the McGovern–Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program. The aim of the project has been to help boost nutrition and offer children a greater incentive to stay in school.
Having previously worked in Mozambique for many years, we knew that we had to do more than provide a daily lunch to make a difference in the lives of the children. So we took a more holistic approach when designing the Food for Knowledge program.
We knew that the children who would be fed would become stronger, more alert, and eager to learn. It was thus incumbent upon us to make sure that the teacher standing at the front of the classroom was equipped to do the best job possible. We set about training 4,000 new primary school teachers, and enhancing the skills of existing teachers. The impact of the training would not only help increase learning during the project period, but would extend the impact for many years into the future.
Food for Knowledge also reached out to local communities surrounding the schools where we worked and provided training in nutrition. This ensured that improved nutrition methods would be supported at home as well as at school. The project also established school gardens, so that children would have a source of fresh food to enhance their diets.
In addition to these “human” elements, we addressed “hardware” issues. This meant establishing new wells or repairing existing ones, building new kitchens and latrines, and creating a warehouse network that ensured the meals were properly stored and distributed.
After its first three years, Food for Knowledge has made significant strides forward. The feedback we received from teachers and the community has been very positive. Children are healthier and are attending school; they are more motivated to learn and are becoming better readers.
It has been a productive three years, but there is still more work to do. We are happy to announce that Food for Knowledge will expand its work over the next five years, increasing the number of meals from 34 million to 82 million. We will also be training 7,700 new teachers and reaching 87,000 children. The project is being implemented in cooperation with ADPP Mozambique, the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health, Cambridge Education, and the Government of Mozambique.
For more information visit our website at Planetaid.org/FFK