Lack of nutrients reduces cognitive ability
In schools, today, right now, in Ghana, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Uganda, children are struggling through the school day because all they have had to eat today is a bowl of watery maize porridge.
This is an education, but not an equal opportunity. And this is just one of the huge array of disadvantages that children face if they don’t eat every day. Malnutrition impairs these children's physical development and mental ability. Evidence shows that undernourished children are 20% less likely to be able to read as an adult, and earn 20% less than their peers over their lifetime.
To provide 600 children the food and water they need to get through school and to measure the impact it has on their educational attainment.
Food for thought
The malnutrition we are talking about is not starvation, but entrenched undernutrition. Our partner in Kenya - Omega Foundation - has worked with Kunya Primary School since 2007. Enrolment and performance has improved; now we’re working to capture the impact of the daily feeding on children's health.
The evidence that malnutrition is a barrier to an equal opportunity is clear.
In Uganda, for example, Vitamin A deficiency affects one out of five young children and women of reproductive age, resulting in impaired resistance to infection and consequently higher levels of illness and mortality, as well as potentially severe eye problems.
Unicef's current nutrition plan for Uganda states the evidence of a link between malnutrition and educational attainment:
"Between 2006 and 2015, iodine deficiency disorder will cause 19,300 children to be born as cretins and 543,000 children to be born with mild or moderate mental disabilities.
"Stunting causes children to start school late because they look too small for their age. In 2006, one in four 7-year-olds had not started school, even with the Universal Primary Education programme.
"Stunting will also be a cause of absenteeism and repetition of school years."
Child.org are amassing our own evidence in this area.
In Kenya, up to 35% of children are stunted.
Our feeding programme at Kunya Primary School in Kenya - and the learnings we have made - was the precursor for our much more comprehensive HealthStart programme. It taught us how health and nutritional interventions in school can have a significant impact on educational attainment.
Where we work
We support children at Kunya Primary school in Kisumu with a school feeding programme.
We fund breakfast club programmes in Thika in Kenya and in Uganda at schools in Kampala and Jinja.
Child.org work really closely with our partners on the ground to provide thousands of children with a breakfast club or a school meal each day.
For example, in Kenya. Omega Foundation coordinate the school meals at Kunya school alongside the school management and a community group. Together, we’ve built a fresh water borehole, developed a rainwater catchment and water management system at the school, as well as building facilities to prepare and cook a daily meal. This programme employs 3 cooks and costs around £18,000 a year to run: £30 a child per year. Each child gets lunch each day. This allows them to attend school fit and healthy enough to benefit from the education.
Breakfast Clubs with food gardens
Our model of breakfast clubs and school food gardens has been running successfully since 2010 and has helped schools in Uganda, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Kenya.
At most of our projects a breakfast club is established at the same time as a food garden. This means that the schools can grow their own food and, once the garden is established, no longer require any external monetary support. Find out more about how this agricultural approach is promoting sustainable improvements in schools here.
We have seen significant improvements in attendance and performance in key subjects and in the well-being of the children.
How you can help
A monthly donation is the best way to help us fund our School Feeding. However, we won’t tell you that your monthly donation of £100 buys a particular number of meals. Life’s not as simple as that. Read why we need Child.org core and join now.
If you want to help us support the children that need most help getting an opportunity, take a look at our Do something page and take your first step.