17 Jul School Lunch at St. Jude Primary School
When Sharon and I came for our visit last year, we heard stories about students going morning to evening without food. School begins at 7:30am and ends between 5pm and 6pm depending on the grade. Many students leave their villages early in the morning to walk to school without eating breakfast. Students have a one hour lunch break so they can walk home to eat. Most of the students did not have lunch waiting for them at home so they remained at school with no food. When the end of the school day finally arrived, many students walked back home to their villages to eat their first meal of the day.
It is difficult to imagine how anyone could concentrate for an entire day without eating any food. The absence of a healthy meal is detrimental to a child’s learning and has a negative impact on school performance. We returned to the United States and asked you for help.
Not only did you help, you helped quickly. The purchasing of equipment began immediately. St. Jude began sourcing food and hiring cooks. Your generous donation put food on the table in a matter of months. Lunch is beans and posha, a grain similar to polenta. The meal represents a healthy combination of protein and carbohydrates.
The 470 students attending St. Jude Primary School now receive a hot lunch every single day.
Implementing this program did not come without trial and error. The cooks did not begin preparing the food early enough in the day and lunch was not ready on time. Portion size was too small and many were still hungry after finishing their meals. The students often forgot to bring a plate from home and had nothing to put their food on. Waiting in long lines to receive their food gave the students little time to eat and enjoy recess.
The staff made strategic modifications. Food preparation now begins earlier in the day so lunch is not delayed. Portion size was modified several times to ensure students are adequately fed without waste. Plating food ahead of time makes the line move much faster. Your donation purchased plates and cups so the students no longer need to bring them from home.
At St. Jude, lunch is about responsibility as much as it is about eating. The children help out when a classmate is in need. Each child is responsible for washing a plate after eating. Lunch is an opportunity to strengthen the school community.
You achieved all of this for the cost of 11 cents per child per day.
Can you think of a better way to spend 11 cents?