According to UNICEF’s 2019 flagship report entitled The State of the World’s Children (SOWC), two thirds of the world’s children are at risk of malnutrition and hidden hunger because of the poor quality of their diets. This report, which examines the issue of children, food and nutrition, highlights the consequences of poor nutrition in younger children and the associated risk of poor brain development, weak learning, low immunity, increased infections and, in many cases, death1.
Nestlé Healthy Kids is a global programme aimed at raising nutrition and health knowledge and promoting physical activity among school-going children, teachers and parents. Key to the success of these programmes are the multiple partnerships involved. CSI Agency MAMAS Alliance has worked alongside Nestlé to bring their Healthy Kids programme to three NGOs within their network around South Africa and has had an enormous impact.
One community that has benefited from this programme is located in Eshane, KwaZulu Natal. This vulnerable population faces many challenges, including an unemployment rate of over 65 percent, only 17% of children living with their own parents and 80% of children living with an elderly family member.
Recognising these needs and the dire lack of facilities or feeding schemes for young children, Little Elephant Training Centre For Early Education (LETCEE) started collaborating with the community in 2014, converting two shipping containers into the Izingane Zethu Centre. The centre has a small kitchen, classroom, toy library and large covered dining area.
LETCEE is one of 37 sustainable NGOS from 75 predominantly rural sites countrywide within the MAMAS Alliance network in South Africa. While each NGO has a different focus areas informed by the needs of communities in which they are located, the entire network is focussed on providing daily meals, clean water, safety, protection and love to as many vulnerable children as possible in order for them to reach their full potential
The Izingane Zethu Centre provides daily breakfast and lunch to about 120 children, aged between 2 and 18 years of age, with school going children benefitting from a nutritious breakfast on the way to school, and getting a hearty lunch after school. The younger children also get breakfast and lunch while attending the play and learn sessions at the centre.
Through Nestle’s contribution to the nutrition project at the centre, substantial kitchen upgrades have been made. The grant also enabled improvements to the vegetable garden, including the building of a tunnel to protect the crops from the coming winter. The garden, which contributes to the nutrition of the children in the community, enables cooked vegetables and salad to be served with every meal. The success of the garden has helped the centre reduce their grocery costs, with most of the vegetables used at the centre coming from the garden.
Training provided to the Izingane Centre team has seem the start of a small business which uses the abundance of chillies grown in the garden to produce bottled chillies which are sold to the community.
Also in KwaZulu Natal, about 15kms from the town of Ixopo in the Ufafa Valley is Woza Moya, an NGO that was started in response to the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS. Woza Moya provides access to childcare and protection, sustainable livelihoods, early childhood development, paralegal and advocacy and youth development for the community which they serve.
Their sustainable livelihoods programme includes farming projects which help to ensure that families have access to good, fresh food in sufficient quantities.
The grant provided by the Nestlé Healthy Kids programme and facilitated by MAMAS Alliance is being used to improve local knowledge about food farming practices, improve nutrition and health mentor and support the community gardeners. These communal gardens, which have already had an incredibly positive impact in addressing food shortages in this community, are continuing to encourage community members to eat fresh and healthy food. This recent funding has enabled new food garden champions and many more food gardeners to be appointed, improved garden infrastructure, provided the necessary gardening tools and seedlings and enabled the hosting of an annual food farming festival to show case produce and motivate gardeners.
Arebaokeng Multipurpose and Palliative Care Centre (MPCC), situated in Tembisa, Gauteng, has also benefited from financial support by MAMAS Alliance via the Nestlé Healthier Kids Programme.
Arebaokeng was established in 2000 in direct response to the need for home-based and palliative care within Tembisa and surrounding areas. In 2004, the centre also started anOrphan and Vulnerable Children’s (OVC) program to provide a safety net for the children within the area, which includes an ECD centre and an After-School Programme.
Arebaokeng MPCC provides care and support to orphans and vulnerable children through their feeding scheme. With so many children going to school hungry, this centre tries to provide at least one meal a day after school. Though this funding from Nestle, 193 children are able to benefit from a nutritious meal for at least the next six months.
MAMAS Alliance collaborates with corporates who are looking to have real impact within a specific focus area and works at no cost, with a guarantee to all companies that 100% of the funds invested in a CSI project go directly to the intended NGO, and subsequently the intended beneficiary. The ability of MAMAS Alliance to work at no cost is possible because the costs are borne by Children’s Fund MAMAS, a Dutch charity that has been co-funding dozens of childcare organizations across South Africa since 2000. For more information, go to www.mamasalliance.com.
- The State of the World’s Children 2019 – Children, food and nutrition: Growing well in a changing world – https://www.unicef.org/reports/state-of-worlds-children-2019