Celebrating International School Meals Day
Each year in March, the world celebrates International School Meals Day. ISMD is a time for children and communities to come together and highlight the benefits of good nutrition and its integral role in strengthening learning.
In Mozambique, Planet Aid and ADPP Mozambique (in collaboration with the Mozambique Ministry of Education and Human Development’s National School Feeding Program) have been implemeneting the Food for Knowledge project, a comprehensive nutrition and education initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the McGovern-Dole Food for Education program.
The project is currently providing a daily school lunch to 80,000 pupils in 269 schools in the districts of Matutuine, Moamba, Magude and Manhiça. Since its launch in 2013, more than 33 million corn-soy porridge meals have been served to children, which has helped to reduce school drop-outs and improve attendance. The project has also improved related infrastructure—from drilling new wells to building kitchens with firewood saving stoves to help save resources and reduce local deforestation. The project is also strengthening educational outcomes by training primary school teachers and developing early language learning skills.
In celebration of ISMD, we asked a few of those involved with the project at 7 de Abril Primary School in Manhica District (one of the participating schools) to share what their experiences have been with the project.
Lidília Alberto, volunteer cook
I am a member of the school board and part of a group of more than 60 volunteers who cook, distributed in three shifts. We usually serve porridge from a mixture of corn meal with soy; however, because this project also introduced school gardens we add some vegetables in the children’s diet. In this activity I see a very positive aspect that is the maintenance of children in school.
Mário Cossa, teacher and school meals manager
Since the introduction of school meals by the FFK project we have noticed a better cognitive performance of children and adolescents. The concern with the students' diet is fundamental both in the family environment and in the school environment, since a healthy and balanced diet in the first years of life, is a decisive factor for good motor development and for learning.
Clayton Juvenal, 6th grade
The school meal gives me energy and allows me to participate in the extracurricular activities club. My dream is to be a poet and, in the club, I feel that I have the conditions to follow my dream. I would have started earlier, but there were periods when I only had one meal a day at home and that weakened me, so I did not go to the school club every day.