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Earlier this month the Tiger Brands Foundation distributed thousands of food hampers in communities where their beneficiary schools are located throughout the country.

“This is a very critical time for the country, and our learners specifically. Some of our learners come from food insecure families and we do not want to reverse any of the gains that have been made in the nutritional and academic aspect of our beneficiary’s lives,” says Eugene Absolom, Director at the Foundation.

The Foundation provides nutritious in-school breakfast at over 100 non-fee paying schools across South Africa. It currently serves a hot, cooked breakfast to a total of 74 300 learners every school day.

The Foundation, having identified poor school nutrition as a problem that needs solving, has gone about the solution by means of the nutritious in-school breakfasts whose ripple effects include improved education and life outcomes, which see the cycle of poverty, malnutrition and other socio-economic ailments broken in the long run.

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This is the Foundation’s theory of change, and food hamper distributions during the current period in which the country finds itself align with their overall mission.

“Now that our learners cannot come to school, we are bringing the nutrition to them,” he says.

The hampers include flour, pilchards, rice, beans, morvite, oats, samp, mealie meal, soap and milk powder among others.

“Some of these items are outside of our mandate, we recognise that, but considering the times we are in, we took care into building a hamper that would address the needs of families during the lockdown.”

Absolom says the soap in particular was very important for the Foundation. “Hygiene is one of the major lessons we teach on the programme, right from the personnel responsible for food storage, to the food handlers down to the recipients of our meals. The current pandemic has only reiterated the message of how vitally important hygiene is. In the fight against the coronavirus, we must do our part, and soap and water are a combination far greater than hand sanitizers during this fight. We’ve given our beneficiaries the best of what we could.”

Six thousand food hampers were distributed across the 10 clusters in which the Foundation operates countrywide. The Foundation’s regional coordinators, in partnership with the Department of Social Development and other local agencies identified families who would be extremely vulnerable during the lockdown.

“We have repurposed the funds we already had in our budget for our in-school breakfast. The food hampers will be financed from the budget that was already set aside to provide in-school nutrition to our beneficiaries.”

The distribution team will follow strict safety guidelines. The Foundation has also partnered with the SAPS, the Department of Social Development, local NGOs, School Governing Bodies, Community Liaison Officers, and other corporate partners to make this distribution possible.

“The learner is always at the centre of our choices. Wherever possible, the Foundation does what’s in its power to ensure unbroken continuity in our mission. It is of great importance therefore, that our learners return to school as fit for study as they were when they left,” concludes Absolom.