Fighting food deficiency in Africa
Sophie Barnett discusses the work of the Lunchbox Fund, a project that helps provide nutritious meals for sub-Saharan schoolchildren in Africa
About the Lunchbox Fund:
The Lunchbox Fund is organization founded in 2005 that is dedicated to fostering education via nutrition. They provide daily meals for schoolchildren across southern Africa.
Their ultimate goal is to feed the 4 million children that lack access to South Africa’s government feeding program.
How did this project start? What are some past accomplishments and future goals?
Our founder, Topaz Page-Green, is South African, and on a work trip to her hometown of Johannesburg, she went on a community service visit to a
township with an old school teacher friend of hers; she was struck with the
abject poverty she witnessed.
Certain children would sit alone at lunch because they didn’t have any food to eat, and it was too painful for them to be around children who could bring something small to eat. Topaz instantly knew that she wanted to be a part of changing that,
and founded the Lunchbox Fund as a result.
We are approaching our 10th anniversary, and currently provide over 2.6 million meals to children in township schools and early childhood development centers each year. These children, who often rely on the Lunchbox Fund as their only food source, are energized by the nutrient-packed meals they receive and motivated to stay in school.
One of the proudest accomplishments of the program was a young boy who, fueled solely by Lunchbox Fund meals, graduated high school with honors and received an engineering scholarship to college. It is incredibly rewarding to
see payoff on our investment in both the health and education of our beneficiaries.
What is the current state of world hunger, what are some world hunger trends will influence the future?
Society is aware that world hunger is a persistent problem, but many are ignorant of the magnitude of the issue. One in eight people in the world go hungry, and, according to the World Health Organization, there are a number of factors that contribute to the proliferation of the problem.
First, poverty—which, as we know firsthand at the Lunchbox Fund, not only prevents children from access to food, but also the education they might need to break free from it—hence why the WHO refers to this factor as the poverty “trap.”
Our mission at The Lunchbox Fund is to help release children from the vicious cycle of poverty and hunger.
The WHO cites a “lack of investment in agriculture” as another factor—and this is one people should be paying more attention to—especially in Africa, where we operate. According to a report by AGRA, 50% of the world’s uncultivated land
is in Africa—and, within the country, less than 25% of what is
available is currently being cultivated.
Instead of capitalizing on nearby resources, a large part of Africa remains
reliant on food imports—at The Lunchbox Fund, we rely on local agriculture to provide our students with local vegetables; if more schools and communities across Africa became increasingly reliant on cultivating food in their own neighborhoods, it would do a major service to both the quality and availability of food across the continent.
One of your goals is to provide "nutritionally fortified foods". What percentage of these foods are fruits and vegetables?
We provide a rotating menu (across a month) of nutritionally fortified foods that are delicious and familiar to the children. These can be prepared in different combinations and include: soya mince in three flavours, immunomeal, samp and sugar beans, rice and lentils, soup mixes, peanut butter, milk, porridge, vegetable stew and three flavours of vitamin infused soft drinks.
Each meal provides the child with a full RDA of macro and micro-nutrients, vitamins and minerals. The school is required to source locally grown vegetables
from within the community, and where peanut butter is supplied, to provide wholewheat bread with which to make sandwiches. Each school receives one month’s supply of food at a time.
If interested, how can our readers help out?
$50 will provide a nutritionally fortified hot meal to a school child every day for a year. You can contribute by visiting our website at: www.thelunchboxfund.org.
You can also download our proprietary app Feedie; we operate in a number of major cities across the United States, Europe, and South Africa.
If you take a photo of your food at a participating restaurant and post it on our app, we donate a meal to a Lunchbox
Fund child hunger in South Africa. The chance for change is literally at your fingertips!