Jan 31, 2017
Linda Open Community School is transforming a once dusty piece of playground into a thriving sustainable food garden with the assistance of Shoprite Zambia. This is helping the school to supplement its current feeding scheme which supports around 1000 learner’s everyday.
In a community facing serious socio-economic challenges like poverty, inadequate access to education for some and a lack of sufficient nutrition, the garden has become a symbol of hope for learners and teachers at the school, as well as the broader community.
Located just outside of Lusaka, the school was identified by Shoprite as one of the beneficiaries of its comprehensive Hunger Relief Programme in 2015.
A thorough needs analysis revealed that many of the learners were coming to school on empty stomachs and had little access to the adequate nutrition required for effective learning. To address this immediate need, the retailer developed an innovative solution in the form of its very first Mobile Soup Kitchen. A bespoke truck with a built-in kitchen to cater for mass servings, the Mobile Soup Kitchen was dispatched to supplement the school’s feeding scheme.
This pilot initiative, which was run in tandem with sponsors Imana and Agogos, has had a significant impact on the school, with a noted reduction in absenteeism and late coming, stable attendance and increased enrolment recorded when compared to the period without the mobile soup kitchen.
Wanting to create a more sustainable solution to the lack of adequate nutrition faced by many of the learners at the school, the retailer commissioned a food garden, calling in support from Stark Ayres to get the garden up and running.
Ground was broken in February 2016 and with the participation of learners and teachers, the Linda Open Community Sustainable Food Garden produced its first harvest during June 2016. Crops such as beans, okra, Chinese cabbage, carrots, beetroot and collard are a welcome addition to addressing the nutritional needs of the learners.
For school Principal Mrs Doreen Mzila the intervention has been blessing. “The issue of hunger is one of our main challenges because hungry children cannot learn properly. So, we are very grateful for all this support from Shoprite and its partners to help us to provide proper nutrition for these learners. The difference this support continues to have is clear on their faces – they look forward to coming to school everyday, they are more eager to learn and are much happier than before.”
The initiative has also received an endorsement from the Ministry of Education. Having already served in excess of 215,000 cups of soup to learners at Linda Open Community School, and with a sustainable food garden now in place, the school is equipped to flourish!