Pioneer Foods Partners with DBE to bring its schools breakfast nutrition programme to Gauteng
The Pioneer Foods Schools Breakfast Nutrition Programme was officially has been launched in Gauteng. The expansion of this flagship programme now provides more than 34 000 primary school children with a nutritious breakfast each weekday morning, across the country.
Speaking at a ceremony held at Winnie Mandela Primary School in Tembisa on Wednesday, Pioneer Foods CEO, Mr. Tertius Carstens explained the rationale behind the programme: “As a leading food and beverage company in South Africa, we believe it is our responsibility to focus our social investment in those areas where it has the biggest impact in alleviating the hunger of our country’s children, on a sustainable basis.”
Pioneer Foods’ schools breakfast nutrition programme started in 2015 and with the addition to Gauteng, is now active in primary schools in 7 provinces.
This programme complements the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE) National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP), which currently provides nutritious meals to more than 9.7 million learners nationally. As a flagship programme of the Department, the NSNP does not only provide daily cooked meals to enhance learning capacity, at its core it also promotes a healthy lifestyle through nutrition education as well as empowering schools to cultivate school food gardens to further boost the fresh produce for the meals.
Delivering the Keynote Address at the launch, Deputy Minister of Basic Education , Dr Regina Mhaule said: “ The National School Nutrition Programme exists to advance our learners’ wellbeing, It is not a standalone programme but part of our Care and Support for Teaching and Learning package, a holistic approach which seeks to address all multiple barriers to learning.’
As part of the breakfast programme, Pioneer Foods provides nutritious well-known brand cereals such as Weet Bix, Bokomo Corn Flakes and White Star Instant porridge to the schools as well as bowls, spoons, long life milk and aprons for the food handlers. “Learners are thereby assured of at least one wholesome meal a day and are able to concentrate on their schoolwork,” says Carstens.
“We have had a consistent problem with our learners not performing well in class - because they were starting each day on an empty stomach. I am happy to report that since the Pioneer Foods breakfast programme began there has been a noticeable difference in their performance,” explains Mr Simango, Principal of the Winnie Mandela Primary School, and adds: “Our learners no longer run in the mornings because they are late - but rather to receive a delicious and nutritious breakfast. This allows them to start the school day with adequate energy.”
The Deputy Minister highlighted the importance of strong public-private partnerships such as this one with Pioneer Foods, ‘’As our founding father President Nelson Mandela said “Education is the engine of Development”, it is wonderful that South African corporates continue to show their faith in the future of our country – our children- by giving of their time, resources, skills and knowledge to help improve the lives of learners through their generous donations. We urge other cooperates to follow the example of Pioneer Foods, and to join hands with government and provide even more schools with breakfast’’ Research has proven that when children eat breakfast, they perform better at school”, Mhaule said.
The schools chosen Pioneer by Foods to participate in this programme are in the lowest quintiles, and close to the comnay’s factories so that the communities from which they draw their workforce can benefit. Carstens added: “We are committed to policies that enhance the economic and social conditions in the communities in which we operate. Pioneer Foods has a number of production sites situated in the general Ekurhuleni area. Hence we are glad to help in alleviating immediate and urgent hunger, but also play a small part in combating non- communicable diseases that arise from a poor diet”.
The Department of Basic Education continues to look at ways to extend and improve the existing NSNP programme. According to the Deputy Minister, this kind of partnership assists in that endeavour: “ Partnerships such as these add value to our quest as a Department to continuously improve the quality of the NSNP programme, We appreciate that Pioneer Foods has joined us to support the breakfast programme which complements the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) lunch meals’’.
In conclusion, Carstens explained “This programme is about far more than merely providing a bowl of cereal - we are empowering these children to fully utilise the potential of education to secure their own food for the future”.
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