#Zerohunger is the theme for this year’s World Food Day, and it means working together to ensure everyone, everywhere, has access to the safe, healthy and nutritious food they need. In South Africa, Pioneer Foods has been doing its part to ensure a healthy start to the day for more than 26 thousand primary school children.
As part of its Schools Breakfast Nutrition Programme, Pioneer Foods supplies a bowl of nutritious breakfast cereal and milk each school day to the children in 30 schools across the Western Cape, Northern Cape, Limpopo, North West, Free State and Kwa-Zulu Natal. Disadvantaged school learners are provided with a selection of healthy cereals such as ProNutro, Bokomo Corn Flakes, White Star Instant Porridge, Bokomo WeetBix, as well as catering equipment, long life milk, and aprons for the food handlers.
“This program has assisted our learners a great deal. The vast majority of them are from a very poor background and often many arrive at school on empty stomachs. Since the Pioneer Foods programme came on board there has been a dramatic improvement not only in attendance, but also learner performance. Having a nutritious breakfast everyday has helped tremendously with their concentration levels and their ability to absorb and learn new information,” says NR Chonco, Principal at Nichols Junior Primary, Pietermaritzburg, KZN.
In Rustenburg, the Principal of Bana-Pele Primary School, S.D. Manganyi explains: “Our school is situated in an informal settlement beset by high unemployment and subsequent poverty. Thanks to Pioneers’ Schools Breakfast Nutrition Programme our learners are receiving highly nutritious breakfasts which many would never otherwise have access to. Since the programme started, attendance levels are at their highest and learners are now always on time and eager to learn.”
Since the inception of its Schools Breakfast Nutrition Programme in 2015, Pioneer Foods has served more than 13 million breakfasts and has created 144 jobs for the food handlers in the respective communities.
The Pioneer Foods Schools Breakfast Nutrition Programme supports the Department of Basic Education’s National Schools Nutrition Programme (NSNP), which currently reaches approximately 20 000 schools and provides daily lunch meals to more than nine million learners nationwide.
As South Africa’s leading breakfast cereal producer, Pioneer Foods has strategically linked its social investment to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals as well as the National Development Plan, while leveraging its core business. The programme aims to achieve zero hunger, quality education and the building of public private partnerships. “We believe it is our duty to ensure food security and address malnutrition, and stunted growth; particularly in areas where the rise in food prices and the cost of living are putting many communities under economic strain.” says Nico Moloto, Group Executive for Stakeholders and Sustainability at Pioneer Foods, “It is not only a nutritious breakfast these kids are receiving, but also a healthy start to the day and a solid foundation for learning. How can we expect our country’s next generation of leaders reach their potential, if as a country we are not meeting one of their most critical needs?” he adds.
Pioneer Foods is aiming to increase the reach of its Schools Breakfast Nutrition Programme during 2019, as there appears to be no sign of an improvement to the situation many of our country’s children find themselves in. “More than 14 million of our people go to bed hungry every night, and over one and a half million of those are children under the age of six years old. This generation holds the future leaders of our country, and we should all work together to help them reach their full potential,” concludes Moloto.
Quick key facts on the Pioneer Foods Schools Breakfast Nutrition Programme:
- Launched in 2015. To date over 13 million breakfasts have been served
- The programme provides a healthy start to the day for more than 26 000 disadvantaged children
- Active in 30 schools throughout the Western Cape, Northern Cape, Limpopo, North West, Free State and KZN
- 144 jobs created since the programme started