Many hungry mouths to feed

Since the late 1950s, a group of caring individuals in Western Cape has banded together to address the issue of children going to school on an empty stomach. The Peninsula School Feeding Association (PFSA) is non-profit organisation based in Observatory, Cape Town, dedicated to ensuring that children at school don’t have to struggle to hear their teachers over the sounds of their rumbling stomachs.

PSFA 3The organisation firmly believes that “you cannot teach a hungry child”, and that by providing a filling meal for children each day, those children will be better able to learn and fulfil their potentialThe organisation firmly believes that “you cannot teach a hungry child”, and that by providing a filling meal for children each day, those children will be better able to learn and fulfil their potential. “The demand for feeding children at schools is ever-growing and there must be a system in place to address this need. That is where the PSFA comes in,” explains Amelia Koeries, the association’s operations manager.

The organisation feeds more than 22 000 children at 111 primary, secondary and special needs schools with daily meals to ensure they receive the nourishment needed for them to get the best out of their time spent at schools. The menus vary from Monday to Friday and provide about 15 percent of the recommended daily allowance of energy and about 40 percent of their recommended daily allowance of protein.

Given that these meals take from one to three hours to prepare, the PSFA also provides breakfast of mealie meal porridge with sugar and salt to get the children’s days off to a healthy start, and to keep hunger at bay until the main meal, usually served at first or second break.

The food is prepared either by the unemployed parents of the children at the schools or by volunteers who want to improve the lives of others. These individuals are given a small honorarium for their efforts.

Set menus are served at all the schools to standardise the procedure and allow for easy monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the feeding scheme. Field workers visit schools regularly to monitor the processes and ensure that hygiene standards and storage conditions are satisfactory.

These field workers are also responsible for identifying other schools that are in need of help and assess whether or not these schools meet the criteria. To qualify, the schools must not receive any subsidies from the government.

Run by a group of volunteers who oversee the strategic planning and policy framework of the organisation, the PSFA also has full-time staff who take care of its day to day activities. “If you don’t have any passion for helping children in need then you wouldn’t understand the sense of fulfilment that we get as facilitators at PSFA,” Koeries says.

PSFA 2The food is prepared either by the unemployed parents of the children at the schools or by volunteers who want to improve the lives of others (Images: PSFA)Some schools do not have suitable kitchens for the meals to be prepared; in such cases, the PSFA provides gas stoves, gas cylinders, pots, cooking utensils and cutlery, as well as bowls and plates.

The cost of feeding these kids at schools that aren’t part of the Department of Basic Education’s National School Nutrition Programme is covered by the organisation itself, which relies solely on donations from the public. It has various fundraising methods, such as the Blisters for Bread fun walk. People pay to take part, and can buy T-shirts and caps. The full 100% of cash raised goes directly to feeding the children.

PSFA also has two other campaigns – Adopt-a-School and Adopt-a-Child – whereby members of the public or businesses can front the costs of providing food for a school or a child for a year. For just R395, you can feed a child at school for an entire year.

Koeries explains her motivation: “Because I see poverty every day on my way to work and I see the other learners at my daughter’s school coming to school with nothing and having to return home to nothing. Knowing that I’m part of something that aims to help these kids gives me a huge sense of pride.”

You can make a donation online via the association’s secure cash transfer link, or by direct deposit. Bank details are available online. For more information about PSFA, visit the website, or contact the organisation:

Telephone: 021 447 6020

Fax: 021 447 6047

Postal address: PO Box 154, Observatory, Cape Town 7935

Physical address: 47 Trill Road, Observatory, Cape Town 7925

Email: info@psfa.org.za