In an effort to improve student performance and encourage enrollment, SHIFSD is launching its new School Lunch Program, with the generous assistance of Africa Aid-USA. The primary beneficiaries of this exciting and sustainable program will be the schoolchildren in SHIFSD’s Accelerated Learning Program (ALP), the only completely free primary school on Buduburam Refugee Settlement.
ALP schoolchildren, as a whole, come from extremely needy refugee families, many of which cannot afford to feed their children regularly or adequately. As a result, the performance of the children in school suffers, as does their attendance rate. The ALP functions to provide primary education within three years instead of six, to support the integration of its graduates into a formal school system. Students who regularly cut classes due to inattention stemming from hunger risk their entire academic future.
Both SHIFSD and Africa Aid will closely monitor the School Lunch Program for effectiveness and nutritional benefits. Balanced meals will be prioritized, in an effort to contribute to the general fitness of the children and, more specifically, to the ALP’s student retention and attendance rates.
The food will be prepared in SHIFSD’s own kitchen, which is being constructed specifically for the project. The organization initially considered teaming with a neighbor school to provide lunch for its students. However, upon further consideration, both SHIFSD and Africa Aid came to the conclusion that it would be more valuable to increase the capacity and sustainability of SHIFSD and the ALP with its own kitchen. In this manner, greater control over the nutritional value of the meals will be exercised. Additionally, SHIFSD will hire mothers of ALP children (including participants of its own Adult Literacy Program) to work as cooks and servers, thereby providing them much-needed employment, while contributing to a greater sense of community.
The primary purpose of the School Lunch Program is simple: to feed ALP children. However, the program has been designed to maximize sustainability on all fronts. The ALP as a whole will benefit by becoming a more optimal learning environment. With its own kitchen, SHIFSD can monitor the program more effectively and increase its capacity for future programs. And no less significant is the role of the mothers in providing the food, thereby generating their own income while offering a hand in the education of their children.