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School meals: education needs nourishment

Children need nutritious food and when they do not get it at home many schools provide their students with school meals. Waldorf schools in the countries of the global South do not receive state subsidies, as they do in Germany. Often they do not know how to finance the children's school meals. With your support, we want to help these schools!

“Everything is lacking“

Not every satchel is carrying a sandwich. At Zenzeleni Waldorf School in South Africa, for example, only a few children bring something to eat for the lunch break. Some families cannot afford to give their children a packed lunch. But in order to actively take part in class they need something to eat. The school provides those children who did not bring anything with a small amount of food. But without financial support the Zenzeleni School cannot do this; it depends on donations.

Also in the small École du Village Waldorf School in Haiti families cannot provide their children with enough food. "Everything is lacking or almost everything, especially food," says school founder Myriam Silien. It is very important to her to welcome also these children to the school. They get something to eat, as much as the means of the school will allow, and are taught according to the principles of Waldorf Education and, above all, without being beaten – which is still far too often the daily fare at Haiti's public schools.

The Tashi Waldorf School in Nepal provides children who would otherwise be unable to attend school with an education. As in Haiti, the school also offers an alternative to the country's outdated school system. "Since the majority of children come from poor backgrounds or are orphans, they have little access to nutritious food", says one of the teachers. Therefore, the children receive two meals at school: A snack after the first lesson and lunch. But the school’s budget is limited. To provide the children with the best possible meals, which do not just keep them from going hungry but also foster their growth, the schools needs some additional 500 euros per month.

The Projeto Salva Dor is also a meeting point for children from poor families. "Most of our children don't get breakfast at home. Not because they have no time or do not want to eat, but because their parents cannot give them one", says a member of the project, which offers children in Salvador - one of Brazil's poorest cities - Waldorf Education before and after school. Here they receive breakfast and can go to school well fed. In the afternoon they also receive a meal or take part in cooking classes, for example. The parents of the children pay small contributions - according to their means. But this money is far from enough to ensure good care and nourishing food. The project depends on donations. The caregivers in Salvador need about 1.500 euros a month to really make a difference.

We all know that an unhealthy diet is just as is detrimental to a child's development as malnutrition and severely impairs their ability to learn. Lack of concentration and a reduced ability to memorize what has been learned can be the consequences of a lack of nutrients. It is simple: education needs nourishment.

At the Ethiopia: HawzenWaldorf School in Hawzen, a small town in northern Ethiopia, the children receive bread rolls and milk during recess. Since some families can only provide their children with a maximum of one meal per day, eating at school is particularly important. But sometimes it happens that there are only very small rolls or no rolls at all, because often there is not enough flour. On the one hand the school aims to offer meals on a reliable basis and to rely on alternatives in times of flour shortage; but it is also important to increase the nutritional value of the food they are offering. "One of our goals for the future is soup for lunch for all of the children", explains Magdalena Bächtle, initiator and mentor of the school. But without help this is impossible. They need 9.000 euros per year to provide the children of the school with good and healthy food.

The Rudolf Steiner School Mbagathi on the outskirts of Nairobi also offers its students meals on a regular basis. Even when the country was hit by a devastating drought last year, we were able to help thanks to an immediate call for donations. But the problem remains. The school management explains: "The long-term consequences of climate change are unpredictable, the short-term ones are apparent: daily life is becoming increasingly difficult, food is becoming scarce, prices are rising, and drinking water is being rationed. This causes uncertainty and anxiety about the future. In order to relieve the children of this anxiety, the school needs support through donations. It requires about € 120 per child to provide warm and nutritious food.

Lunch is central to the functioning of so many schools, because it makes full-day care possible. Poverty and low incomes very often mean that parents work long hours and have long commutes. This means that the parents are not at home at noon to prepare lunch for the children, let alone take care of them for the rest of the day. This is also the case with the - still - small school Hebet el Nil in Egypt. In this country, there will often be 70 children in one class, where they are supposed to learn by shouting in unison what the teacher tells them. Those who can’t keep up run the risk of being spanked. In spite of compulsory schooling, many children do not attend school; the illiteracy rate is currently at 30 percent. It is particularly difficult for girls to get into the school system. Since the state provides only little money for its schools, several private schools have been established in recent years, which, of course, are only available to families with high incomes. That is exactly what the Hebet el Nil school doesn't want. All children are welcome here. Most children come from poor families, not even half of them can make a financial contribution to school. So far, the children can stay at school only in the morning and then go home. But founder Nathalie Kux wants to change this as soon as possible: "At 1 pm the children reluctantly go home, where there are no meaningful activities for them in the afternoon. It is my goal to have the children attend school also in the afternoon, from next year on. Then, they would be able to take part in a variety of activities such as music, gardening, games, and sports. But to achieve this, she has to offer lunch for the children. The first thing the school needs is a fully equipped kitchen: refrigerator, oven, pots, tables, benches, plates, cups and cutlery.

In all of this, we must not forget that in order to learn well, children do not just have to be fed somehow. They need a rich and well thought-out diet. Because it's not just that education needs nourishment. It is similarly true that nourishment is education. A shared meal is an important social element, and starting the meal by saying grace lets the children experience gratitude. Healthy food has an educational effect. Maybe the children will find something they don't know from home. They also have the opportunity to get to know different flavors, other ways to prepare food, and different ingredients. Therefore, investing in school meals has an effect on many different levels and can at best break the cycle of poor nutrition and increase the children's joy of learning.

With a heartfelt request for your donation,

Nana Goebel, Henning Kullak-Ublick, Bernd Ruf, Andreas Schubert

 

Donation account:

Freunde der Erziehungskunst
GLS Bank Bochum
IBAN: DE47 4306 0967 0013 0420 10
BIC: GENODEM1GLS

Keyword: School meals

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