The Mpilonhle Food Security Programme was launched in August 2008. Mpilonhle is commited to addressing hunger among the students it serves. Many of these students suffer from a lack of access to adequate and nutritious food and from the rising cost of foods that are available. In addition to the threat of malnutrition, hungry students are less likely to actively participate during school hours and frequently achieve poor year-end results. Mpilonhle is taking a holistic, sustainable approach to this challenge by improving household food security for students in the following ways:
Food Parcels (Emergency Relief)
Mpilonhle currently provides monthly food parcels to forty families headed by orphaned students who are not receiving government grants. All families will receive a monthly food parcel until the student graduates from school or receives other support. Students that are eligible for a government grant are assisted in applying for and receiving the grant. After receiving a grant, food parcels are discontinued to this student so that another family in need can be supported. Efforts are ongoing to expand the number of food parcels beyond the current level of forty, as Mpilonhle has identified more than 240 additional families headed by an orphaned student in need of food support.
Food Gardens (Sustainable Relief)
Mpilonhle has begun a school garden project that will improve student access to nutritious fruits and vegetables. Gardens will be supported at two of the schools currently served by Mpilonhle (Madwaleni and Silethukukhanya High School). Garden clubs will be formed at these schools to closely involve students in the care of the school gardens, as well as teach them the skills that they need to start their own small home gardens. This project will be expanded to additional schools as resources become available.
Mpilonhle has always included sessions on proper nutrition as part of its health education curriculum. Information on proper nutrition is an important part of Mpilonhle’s response to food insecurity because it will help students with limited resources to make better decisions about the use of those resources. Mpilonhle’s nutrition curriculum is reviewed and updated on a regular basis.