Working Papers

School Feeding in South Africa: What we know, what we don’t know, what we need to know, what we need to do

Published 11 June 2018, by Stephen Devereux, Tessa Hochfeld, Abdulrazak Karriem, Clement Mensah, Matseliso Morahanye, Thabang Msimango, Agnes Mukubonda, Sigamoney Naicker, Grace Nkomo, David Sanders and Mohammed Sanousi

Publication: Food Security Working Paper #004

This working paper draws on the proceedings of a ‘National Workshop on School Feeding in South Africa’, convened in November 2017 by the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security. Workshop participants engaged with unresolved debates in school feeding, notably its objectives and impacts, which include food security and nutrition, education access and outcomes, intergenerational poverty reduction, employment creation and support to local agriculture. In South Africa, the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) currently provides meals to over 9 million learners. The NSNP has two other pillars – Nutrition Education and Deworming, and Sustainable Food Production – but 96% of the budget goes to school feeding. School food gardens can increase children’s consumption of fruit and vegetables and function as ‘outdoor classrooms’, but less than half of NSNP schools have a food garden. No rigorous impact evaluation of the NSNP has yet been conducted, partly for methodological reasons – notably the challenge of identifying a control group – but a comparison of NSNP with an NGO-run in-school breakfast programme found that adding a second meal led to enhanced positive impacts on learners’ nutritional status, school attendance and learner performance. NGOs and public-private partnerships are making important contributions, either by expanding the coverage of school feeding or by piloting innovative modalities. South Africa can also learn from experiences in other countries, such as Brazil, Lesotho and Namibia, for instance with alternative models such as local procurement and ‘home-grown school feeding’.

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