Main Article Content
The general wellbeing of primary school children is affected by various factors, of which the lack of foods of high nutritional value ‒ from the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) or from lunch boxes, tuck shops and vendors ‒ is one factor. This article reports on sections of the baseline phase of a longitudinal cohort study, as part of an integrated study. The baseline exploratory survey in 2015 conducted structured interviews and observation in eight quintile 3 public primary schools from areas in Nelson Mandela Bay (Eastern Cape).
A total of 8 587 children received food from the Department of Basic Education’s NSNP. The average expenditure of R2.51 per child per day, including costs for gas and food, makes providing a meal that meets 30% of the nutrient requirements difficult. Only one school had a vegetable garden providing for meals. Four of the eight schools had an acceptable kitchen, but none met all the necessary requirements regarding space and plumbing for the number of children catered for. None of the food providers was trained in basic hygiene and food safety. This was identified as a serious problem, as 60% of the children in the study had one or more types of parasitic infection.
Food items from tuck shops and vendors were generally low cost items with little nutritional value. Lunch boxes contained energy food ‒ often refined, processed items low in fibre. The food providers, tuck shop operators, vendors and teachers require nutrition, health and safety education, as well as food garden training.