First lady calls for urgent resumption of schools feeding programme

By ZBC Reporter
THE FIRST LADY, Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa has called for an urgent supplementary feeding scheme for children in schools following reports that most children in rural areas are going to school on empty stomachs.
Most school children in rural areas have to walk long distances of more than 10 kilometres to the nearest school. Statistics by the Ministry of Health and Child Care reveal that about one hundred thousand (100 000) children face malnutrition and are attending school on empty stomachs. Amai Mnangagwa made the call in Harare this Wednesday at a local retail shop headquarters where representatives form the private sector pledged to support the initiative.
The deputy director Nutrition Services in the Ministry of Health and Child care, Handrea Njovo said only seven percent of children in rural areas are receiving a balanced diet while the rest are malnourished.
“We have about 5,5 million people in rural areas that need support and 100 thousand are children. Only seven percent of our children are receiving a minimum acceptable diet and we are targeting about 1 million people including pregnant and lactating women,” said Njovo.
The First Lady has called on corporates and individuals to join hands and ensure all school-going children have access to supplementary feeding.
“Many children go to school without food and it is our responsibility to protect all the vulnerable groups. Let us help each other on the intervention program we can do to avert the situation,” said the First Lady
Representatives from the private sector pledged their support for the initiative, with others offering to support sustainable projects for communities.

The First Lady has been visiting marginalised areas where she has witnessed some of the challenges facing children.
With the current unpredictable rainfall patterns, prospects of another drought are high and such an initiative comes as a mitigatory measure for the benefit of the children. Research has echoed several strong outcomes of school feeding including: increased attendance and enrolment at school, reduced repetition and dropout rates, improved retention, cognitive performance, and completion and promotion rates. It also notes the positive impact of school meals on children’s height, weight, micronutrient status, and general health.