The severe drought in Cape Town has forced the Peninsula School Feeding Association (PSFA) to change its menu from a hot cooked meal for pupils to a sandwich for lunch.
With level 6B water restrictions were implemented this month, limiting Cape Town water users to only 50 liters each, the PSFA said it needed to be pro-active and reduce the usage of water for their cooking.
Now more than 25 000 youth in over 140 primary, high schools and tertiary educational institutions are receiving a sandwich for their lunchtime meal.
The association said for the past few months schools in the Cape Peninsula have experienced water interruptions which resulted in preparers being unable to access water for cooking of school meals. This further impacted on the stock piling of ingredients like samp, beans, rice and soya mince.
These ingredients are used in the daily menus which included meals such as fish, rice and butternut or samp and beans with fresh fruit.
The PSFA’s menu with the assistance of nutritional experts from the Department of Education aims to provide for 30% of a child's daily recommended dietary intake (RDI) of nutrients.
PSFA operations manager Amelia Koeries said: “While we cannot match the balanced nutrition of the cooked meal, we adapted our new 'dry' lunch menu to include as much nutritional value as possible.
"We have sourced a baker to especially bake a brown bread for us. This will be served with toppings such baked beans, alternated with pilchards, high in omega oils."
PSFA director Petrina Pakoe said through research the association found that 200 000 litres of water is used monthly in the preparation of lunch meals in the 147 schools on the PSFA scheme alone.
PSFA is, however, also the service provider under tender for the Western Cape's department of education to provide school feeding in a further 459 schools and educational institutions as well as 54 early childhood development centres (EDCs).
Although their water-less lunch menu is saving water, PSFA is not serving a waterless menu as it is continuing with a cooked fortified maize-meal porridge served for breakfast.
“We are certainly using 'less water' in our 'water-less' menu, but PSFA needs to remain true to its objective - to reduce short-term hunger. We have to make sure that no child is going hungry during this drought as you can’t teach a hungry child,” Pakoe said.
PSFA has been feeding school children since 1958 and is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2018. They feed over 290 000 children daily.