More than five years ago, Tiger Brands Foundation’s in-school breakfast programme started serving a nutritious breakfast meal to learners in no-fee paying schools. The Foundation today will mark the serving of its 50 millionth meal, says Eugene Absolom, director of Tiger Brands Foundation. The programme, a public-private partnership with the Department of Basic Education, was piloted in 2011 at six schools in Alexandra township in Johannesburg, where it served meals to a few hundred learners.
“Today we are pleased to announce that we serve breakfast every school day to just under 64 000 learners at 92 schools in all nine provinces around the country,” says Absolom. The Foundation was set up by Tiger Brands as a special purpose BEE vehicle and is funded through a bi-annual trickle dividend from the company. Tiger Brands focuses its social outreach initiatives on issues pertaining to food and nutrition security, and the Foundation looks to provide this to school learners in some of the country’s most impoverished communities.
The Tiger Brands Foundation breakfast initiative constitutes more than just feeding hungry learners. “Meals are designed by nutritionists to ensure they meet the nutritional needs of growing young minds, as well as addressing some of the main health challenges in vulnerable communities,” says Absolom. Studies by the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA) show that the impact of the programme is far-reaching. Speaking at a recent CSDA forum, research and analytical psychologist, Dr Madri Jansen van Rensburg, from Resilience Analysis Consulting, said the benefits of the programme extended beyond the learners themselves and into entire communities.
“Because of a drop in learner absenteeism, which can be directly attributed to the breakfast programme, community law enforcement has also recorded a drop in misdemeanors and other petty crimes,” she said. Other notable developments associated with the breakfast programme, according to studies conducted, indicate positive health outcomes such as lower rates of obesity caused by low nutrient foods, as well as improved educational outcomes. Studies have also indicated a possible link to decrease in stunting.
To mark the serving of the programme’s 50 millionth meal, Tiger Brands Foundation has selected five schools in the Northern Cape where learners will receive food hampers. Absolom says the distribution of food hampers was not a random act. Each hamper contains 1 kg Ace Instant, 1 kg Jungle Oats, 1 kg Morvite, 2.5 kg maize samp, 2 kg Tastic white rice, 410g Koo baked beans, 2.5 kg Ace maize meal and 500g Lion sugar beans. TetraLaval, a global food processing, and packaging solutions group, will contribute milk to each hamper. This is part of Tetra Pak’s #MilkforChange campaign which mobilises stakeholders to collect 60 000 litres of milk for 6 000 children. The Tiger Brands Foundation breakfast programme has in recent years attracted other private sector partners, including Nungu Distribution, the Sishen Solar Facility, and the Gouda Wind Farm.
Sheila Sisulu, chairperson of Tiger Brands Foundation, says the Foundation’s long-term goal is to see many private sector organisations become active partners in the programme by either contributing funds to Tiger Brands Foundation or simply adopting the Foundation’s model to run their own programmes. “The end goal for us is to see all learners receive a healthy cooked breakfast every morning,” she says.