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Education Policy: School feeding scheme

What is in this guide?

This guide provides government policy on school admissions. It has the following sections:

  1. What is the school feeding scheme?
  2. Who is eligible for school feeding, and are they being fed?
  3. How does school feeding work in practice?
  4. Who is excluded from school feeding?

    1. What is the school feeding scheme?

    The school feeding scheme - or as it is officially called: the National School Nutrition Programme - aims to foster better quality education by:

    School feeding is a small part of the Integrated Food Security Strategy for South Africa, which was introduced in 2002 and involves the Departments of Health, Social Development, Land Affairs and Agriculture. The school feeding programme is therefore just one of a range of projects that respond to nutritional needs, and does not try to respond to all problems around poor nutrition, hunger or food security.

    1. Who is eligible for school feeding, and are they being fed?

    The selection for the school feeding scheme works in two ways. First, whole schools are selected for funding for this programme because most of their learners come from poor families. Within selected schools, learners are selected by age or grade or some other criteria for feeding. The minimum policy is to feed all Grades from R up to Grade 7 for 156 out of approximately 196 school days per year.

    Research found that not all children entitled to school feeding received food. While 90% of eligible children (were reported to be receiving free food at school in the rural site, only 56% of eligible children in the urban site were receiving food. On the other hand, urban children who were receiving food at school got it more regularly than those in the rural site.

    1. How does school feeding work in practice?

    Feeding schemes provides only a small amount of food to help to relieve child hunger and also to relieve poor caregivers from some of the burden of worry when they are unable to provide enough food for their children.

    There are a number of common problems with school feeding schemes that parents, teachers and school governing bodies should watch out for:

    1. Who is excluded from school feeding?

    As with the No-fee Schools and School Fee Exemption policies, children living in areas where schools are too far and/or not operating are practically excluded from the National School Nutrition Programme. But there are also exclusions inherent in the design of this programme. Young children under six years old who are not yet at school cannot access food through the programme.

    There is currently no government-funded nutrition programme at high schools, although it has been reported that some provincial departments have used discretionary funding for this purpose. Government will extend feeding to high schools in the next five years.


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