school nutrition


National School Nutrition Programme


The Eastern Cape Province is home to 2 696 000 children under the age of eighteen (18) years which constitutes fifteen per cent of the entire population of children of this age in South Africa. In 2012 about 72.4 % (1 951 000) of these children were reported as living in income poverty whilst 20.4 % (550 000) were reported as living in households where there is reported child hunger.

As part of mitigating this challenge, over the past twenty-one years, the Eastern Cape Department of Education has through the implementation of the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP), provided a social safety net aimed at alleviating poverty for these vulnerable children.

It also contributes to the improvement of education outcomes by enhancing primary pupils learning capacity, school attendance and punctuality.


All South Africans including children have a right to access to sufficient food as well as basic nutrition and education as enshrined in the country's constitution. The NSNP is an important component of government efforts to meet the rights of children and attaining its poverty alleviation goals.

The Programme is one of the first initiatives of the first democratic Government and is funded through a Conditional Grant. Initially it focused on primary schools but currently it also caters for secondary school learners in disadvantaged communities.


The aim of the Department is to address the plight of needy learners through provision of nutritious meals.

All schools in the country have been ranked from quintile 1 to quintile 5 in terms of available resources and socio-economic level of the local community.

The programme therefore provides for all learners in in quintiles 1 to 3 primary and secondary schools as well as learners in targeted special schools.

For the 2015/16 financial year coverage includes 1,730 257 learners in 5348 schools which represents 29% increase from 2008/9 financial year.


The aim of Nutrition Education is to promote healthy lifestyles and good nutrition amongst school communities and this is achieved by providing messages on healthy lifestyles through print and electronic media as well as other promotional material.

Nutrition Education is also extended to Volunteer Food Handlers (VFHs) whose capacity to prepare food, observe hygiene, food and gas safety is built through mandatory structured workshops that they have to attend during their tenure.


A cooked meal consisting of a protein-rich food, a starchy food and a fruit or a vegetable is served daily to all targeted learners preferable by 10h00. A one-week cycle menu with specified quantities for food is available for each of the participating schools and ensures variety.


Since beginning of 2011, the Province utilizes a decentralized procurement model. In this model schools receive funds directly from the Province on quarterly basis and procure services for supply and delivery of foodstuffs on their own.

For a school to receive funding for any procurement, including that of NSNP procurement, it requires a 'Section 21' status (SA Schools Act of 1996). This status indicates that they have requisite skills and expertise to handle the school finances and procurement.

These schools have a School Governing Body (SGB) which is trained annually on financial management and reporting. Schools without Section 21 status have been accorded a partial status to enable NSNP procurement. 


The NSNP requires a school-based committee to oversee the planning and implementation of provision of daily meals served to learners and community members are encouraged to be part of such committees.

Furthermore, the programme also makes use of services of Volunteer Food Handlers who prepare daily meals for learners. For the current financial year, the Department has appointed 11 490 Volunteer Food Handlers. These 11 490 indigent school community locals are contracted to prepare meals for learners at a monthly stipend of R960.00 which translates to R132 364 800 per annum.

The NSNP contribution to the Social Wage when the cost of foodstuffs is factored in amounts to R971 734 137 per year. The procurement of foodstuffs by schools from local entrepreneurs, emerging markets and other enterprises contributes immensely to local economic development (LED).