Mpumalanga schools are among 300 to launch EduPlant gardens to feed students across the country

Provincial FEATURED

The EduPlant Programme is an initiative of Food & Trees for Africa, in partnership with Tiger Brands, and compliments meals provided to learners by schools through the National School Nutrition Programme (NSPS), a programme also supported by Tiger Brands through the Tiger Brands Foundation.

EduPlant Programme Coordinator, Nosiphelo Nkani, , Tlhabanelo Mohlamonyane, said  this initiative aims at providing schools with the tools, training, and educational materials to grow their own gardens and this will ensure that the children of that area are able to supplement their nutritional needs with fresh produce.

“300 more schools were inducted as official EduPlant schoools with the overall objective to develop a variety of skills and ensure that the EduPlant Programme plays a vital role in empowering schools and communities to improve their livelihood while ensuring school-aged children have nutritious and healthy meals every day,” she said.

She added that in Mpumalanga, the cluster areas include Acornhoek, Graskop, Kabokweni and Khulangwan

Nkani, points out that “the skills development aspect of the EduPlant Programme plays a vital role in empowering schools and communities to improve their livelihoods, and to supply school-aged children with nutritious and healthy meals. Successful food gardens can be income-generating sites too.” She said.

Thousands of schools across the country are EduPlant schools, with fresh produce harvested from gardens benefiting approximately 18,000 learners each year.

“The most recent schools on board are based in all nine provinces and have already broken the ground in their gardens, with the first consistent harvests are already producing fresh veggies daily. These gardens are expected to supplement the daily meals of around 12,000 learners,” said Nkani.

Preeya Naidu, Social Transformation Manager, Tiger Brands, said they became a partner of the EduPlant programme in 2019 and its efforts to provide nutritious meals to learners are well aligned with the company’s long-running support of the National School Nutrition Programme through the Tiger Brands Foundation. The Foundation serves breakfast daily to more than 74 000 learners in 95 schools, across all nine provinces.

“As a food producer, Tiger Brands is in a position to help address the growing challenge of hunger in vulnerable communities across South Africa. However, it’s more than just providing what we have, it is using our available resources to implement initiatives and partner with likeminded organisations, such as Food & Trees for Africa, to equip and empower people to support their own nutritional needs in a sustainable manner. That way, they are not dependent on others, where their basic need to access sufficient, safe and nutritious food is concerned,” said Naidu

The EduPlant programme runs over a two-year cycle. The current cycle will culminate in a competition at the end of 2023 to select the most thriving school gardens.

The impact of the programme is measured by the change of attitude in environmental awareness, increased knowledge and skills for growing food sustainably, and the integration of learning gardens in the curriculum.