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Cape Town - Hundreds of pupils are going hungry because the Peninsula School Feeding Association (PSFA), which has fed children for 55 years, has lost the tender to provide meals.
Some of the schools contacted by the Cape Times said pupils were complaining of hunger and absenteeism rates had increased. The PSFA said it had lost the tender because it wasn’t BEE compliant and didn’t bid at the lowest price.
The PSFA, which had been one of the Western Cape Education Department’s service providers for 10 years, now provided food to about 22 500 pupils in 115 schools.
The feeding scheme provided meals to more than 430 000 pupils in 1 026 schools. This included all pupils in quintile 1 to 3 schools – the poorest schools which the department was required to feed – and to 310 quintile 4 and 5 schools in poorer areas.
The department has since awarded the tender to service providers Inyameko Trading 189 cc trading as Masiyakhe Industries, based in Cape Town, and Landmark Logistics, based in Oudsthoorn.
Morne Goosen, acting director for the PSFA, said it had previously been able to provide food to pupils who fell outside of the WCED’s quintile classification.
“Not being a service provider, we can’t act in those schools (anymore). Those children are now losing out. As an organisation that wants to feed hungry children, that is a concern to us,” Goosen said, after some 9 000 pupils fell out of the WCED’s quintile classification.
He said they would bid for the tender again when it expired in mid-2015.
News website GroundUp revealed last week that schools had complained that a fraction of pupils were being fed.
The Cape Times contacted a number of schools which said they were unable to feed all pupils, leading to pupils going hungry or staying away from school.
“We have cases of some of our learners not getting food. We have a high absentee rate because learners see they don’t get any food,” said one principal, who had seen more than 200 pupils now go hungry.
One school said it fed about 500 pupils with the ingredients supplied for 250 pupils, resulting in pupils complaining about the smaller portions.
“We can’t feed them the way we did. We feed them smaller portions,” said the principal.
Principals were reluctant to be identified as they were fearful of being disciplined.
Bronagh Casey, spokeswoman for Education MEC Donald Grant, said arrangements had been made to ensure all pupils were being provided with a meal. “The WCED have made provision for the learners that did not qualify, those who were being fed additionally by PSFA, to benefit from the feeding scheme. They are currently being fed at these schools.”
She said no complaints had been received but any would be followed up.
“The tender was a competitive bid. PSFA lost out according to that bid,” she said.
“The awarding of the tender is done following an open tender process where bidders have to comply with the tendering criteria, which includes price and other preferential points.”
Casey said the PSFA could continue its charity work in providing food for pupils who did not qualify for funding.