Career prospects and job satisfaction of NSNP food handlers in Gauteng
The National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) is of cardinal importance in South Africa. It operates on a large scale nationally and across different sectors of the economy, primarily to serve meals to all public schools in communities with low socio-economic status. In response to this huge demand, parents of learners in the local communities are employed on contract as food handlers to prepare and serve meals to learners at the schools. However, contract periods are fixed-term with no certainty of re-employment. This study investigates the career dynamics and satisfaction levels of NSNP food handlers in Gauteng. A convergent parallel mixed-method research design was adopted for this study. Random sampling was applied in 290 secondary schools to identify participants in all 15 Gauteng Department of Education districts. A structured questionnaire was administered to NSNP food handlers while interviews were conducted with all 15 District Nutrition Co-ordinators (DNCs). Quantitative responses on job satisfaction were rated on a 4-point Likert scale, while career prospects and failure to find employment after the expiry of the NSNP contract were measured on a dichotomous scale. Qualitative data from interviews were analysed in a narrative form. It was concluded that the NSNP food handlers struggle to secure employment after the expiry of their one-year NSNP contracts. Furthermore, the evaluation reveals that food handlers have low job satisfaction. The advanced age of some NSNP food handlers is related to the low job satisfaction experienced. Additional challenges faced by the food handlers were poorly managed working conditions and low remuneration.