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“There are some students whose parents can only provide one meal a day“

The Waldorf Kindergarten in the small town of Hawzen in northern Ethiopia was founded in 2006, followed by a school in 2014. The parents are only able to pay symbolic fees to the school and the kindergarten. The school’s founder Atsbaha Gebre-Selassie and his colleagues are almost entirely dependent on donations. One of the initiators of the school, who has also accompanied it throughout its existence, is Magdalena Bächtle, former student at the Waldorfschule Chiemgau. In an e-mail interview with the Friends of Waldorf Education, she told us about the current school meal situation and what wishes she has for the future.

Why is it important for children to be provided with food at school and in kindergarten?
Eating at school plays an essential role for the children's ability to concentrate in class. There are some students for whom the parents can only provide one meal a day; for these children in particular school meals are extremely important.

What are the requirements the food has to meet from the school’s point of view?
At the moment, the school's requirements are still relatively simple. It should be filling, while allowing students and teachers to share some quite time. Our aim for the future is to have our school meals support a balanced diet. A wish for the future would be that all children could have soup for lunch, in addition to milk and bread rolls during the ten o’clock recess.

How many children receive a meal at the school?
Every child receives milk and one roll a day, if available. There are about 120 kindergarten children and 160 school children. The only time we can’t provide the rolls is if no flour is available, and then also none of the children are privileged; if we can make only a few bread rolls, we share them, of course. For the future we aim to be able to offer an alternative meal if no or only very expensive flour is available due to crop failures.

How many meals per day do you offer?
Currently there is one meal per day; as already mentioned a second meal - a lunch - is planned for the future - but that is a financial issue. Once such a service has been established, it cannot easily be cancelled again.

How much would it cost per day to feed a child, so that the child is optimally nourished?
In a full cost calculation we include flour, cows, electricity, the baker, and a kitchen hand, adding up to about 0.10 Euros per child and day; if we additionally offer soup, we would up to about 0.20 Euros.

What kind of support do you need to provide the children with the best possible care?
We already have the necessary equipment. However, if we want to offer a full meal for everyone, it would cost not 4.500 Euros per year, but rather about 9.000 Euros. If the school grows as planned, to 320 children in grades one to eight (a total of 440 children in school and kindergarten plus teachers), we would reach 14.080 Euros per year. For comparison, a teacher's salary is about 1.500 to 2.000 euros per year – so that we could pay seven additional teachers with the costs for the school meals.

 

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