Gelito Abel (11) used to be faced with a difficult decision when he woke up – whether to go to school and be hungry or to stay at home looking for something to eat. That was before meals were served daily in his school in Massecha village in Tete province.
Gelito lives with his mentally ill mother and four brothers in a small hut with a grass roof in the village. He says that his father left the family because of his mother’s illness. Gelito is still in second grade because he used to skip school in the days before school meals were introduced to his school.
“Every day now, I eat a good maize meal with beans during break times, and this gives me the energy I need,” he says. “With the meal provided by WFP, I can concentrate better in class and work hard in order that one day I will be a teacher and help the children of my village”.
School feeding provides both educational and health benefits to the most vulnerable children, thereby increasing enrollment rates, reducing absenteeism, and improving food security at the household level.
“The majority of my students live from 10 to 15 km away from school, but since WFP’s school feeding programme started in 2012, we have recorded an increase of 22 percent in enrolment rates,” says headmaster Francisco Pondebmebe. “The most important outcome, however, is the improved concentration of students during lessons”.
The programme also benefits the larger community.
“School Feeding has lifted a burden from many parents, they now know their children are at school and they have a good meal there,” says community member Joshua Sumate.
Tete is one of the most food-insecure areas in Mozambique and has a very long ‘lean season’ (when own-produced food stocks become increasingly depleted in the months leading to harvest time ).