National school nutrition programme (NSNP) service providers in Limpopo have raised alarm over the provincial education department’s decision to only feed learners in grades 7 and 12 next week.
One of the service providers is based in Polokwane and spoke to GroundUp on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation.
He said, “I usually deliver as far as Venda, and even here in Polokwane the schools I deliver to are [quite a distance apart]. This decision means I am now providing meals for fewer learners.”
The service provider explained that according to his current schedule, he is expected to only deliver goods for seven learners at one school and 13 at another.
“Normally I would deliver for 5,000 learners both primary and secondary, but now my delivery will only be for 677 in grades 7 and 12. Other service providers have even fewer deliveries than me,” he said.
Limpopo education department spokesperson Tidimalo Chuene confirmed that meals would only be provided for the two grades expected to return on Monday.
“We are providing for grade 12 and 7 until there is a determination made [by the government],” she said.
“For now, scholar transport, school nutrition, personal protective equipment, and everything else is focused on the two grades. There isn’t anything formally communicated to the province that compels other grades to be taken on board,” she said.
Chuene then promised to look into some of the concerns raised by the service providers.
But the service provider told GroundUp that the department was aware of the problem.
SECTION27, who were alerted by the service providers to the issue, believes this move by the provincial department could disrupt the start of the nutrition programme in Limpopo.
Legal researcher at SECTION27 Tendai Mafuma said: “We are concerned that this approach may leave many children hungry for an unnecessarily prolonged period. This approach is at odds with the director-general for basic education who at a meeting on 26 May said that the school nutrition programme would resume immediately for all learners regardless of whether they were going back to school.
“We are engaging the Limpopo department of education to ensure that its response complies with the director-general’s undertaking,” said Mafuma.