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Providing nourishing meals for pre-schoolers

Filling holidays nutrition gap

Pictured with a 5kg bag of My Life porridge are from left, Bongmusa Dlamini, Esihle Majola and Kuhlekonke Khubo from Luthando Day Care in Dassenhoek. Picture: Rogan Ward

Durban-based Zero2Five Trust provides nutritional and educational support to children attending more than 400 under-resourced early childhood development (ECD) centres in vulnerable, mostly rural communities in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

The organisation also provides education and training for ECD practitioners and assists centres to register with the Department of Social Development (DSD) and apply for the ECD subsidy.

After the announcement of school closures and the lockdown in March 2020, the Zero2Five team restructured its centre-based feeding. As was the case with many civil society organisations, the pandemic demanded that Zero2Five adapt to implement disaster relief efforts. Its agility and ability to collaborate enabled it to continue providing nutritional support throughout lockdown and across the border into the Eastern Cape.

Nutrition status

Since August 2020, the team has been back to supporting ECD centres to re-open and deliver its usual nutritional support and implementing more WASH (water health and sanitation) components in ECD programmes. It quickly became evident that the nutrition status of many children was not optimal after their return from the long lockdown and the December holidays came far too quickly to achieve a measurable improvement.

The boot of the Zero3Five vehicle loaded with 5kg bags of nutritious porridge for delivery to households in KwaZulu-Natal.

“The six weeks of December holidays present a huge food security problem for millions of South African children who are depending on school meals and in 2020, this applied multifold. What a great call from our partner organisation, the Victor Daitz Foundation, to set a big bundle of funds aside, specifically for filling the school meal gap with nutritious meals,” said Julika Falconer of Zero2Five.

Lockdown food relief efforts in Mooi River

The distribution of 36 tons of fortified breakfast porridges started in the first week of December and will be completed on Friday, January 15. The total food relief will translate into 720 000 meals.

Pietermaritzburg based Truda Foods assisted with subsidised rates for the food and transported the goods across KZN to central distribution points in the uThukhela, Illembe, King Cetshwayo, uMgungundlovu Districts and the Outer West in eThekwini. From there, the Zero2Five bakkie transported the foods to rural ECD centres for the children to take home.

Taking action in isolation: school kids feeding scheme in Lidgetton

Brian Moshal, managing trustee of the Victor Daitz Foundation, said: “At the end of 2020, our board decided that something had to be done to ameliorate the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic. What better than to call Julika Falconer from the Zero2Five Trust to equitably distribute fortified food to the most vulnerable in our KwaZulu-Natal communities.”

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