That’s according to teachers at Cato Crest Primary in Cato Manor, where many used to start the day nibbling on chips and sweets.
But things changed when the school’s 221 Grade 6 pupils started getting an early morning apple, provided through an innovative, sustainable business solution. This involves customers in Glenwood and Morningside buying their fruit and vegetables online and collecting them from outlets such as coffee shops and internet cafés.
“They pay the same price as supermarkets, but half the money goes towards providing fruit to needy kids,” said Benjamin Constable, founder of the non-profit company Fresh Box.
Teacher Sizakele Mabaso noticed the change in her class of 70 pupils.
“They concentrate better and don’t fall asleep,” she said.
Fresh Box provided the Grade 6 pupils with fruit because a survey showed they were most in need of a morning meal, according to youth worker Cindy Zulu, from the Themba Lethu organisation, which is also involved in the feeding scheme.
The supply of fruit makes other teachers and pupils envious, but Constable has a solution in his sights, saying Grade 5 pupils would also receive morning fruit as soon as he attracted a further 50 regular customers.
“Our long-term goal is to have 500 customers. Then we’ll be able to feed every single grade here,” he said.
Fresh Box also provides food to the Durban Children’s Home.
Constable, a New Zealander with a physics degree from the US, came to Durban as a professional basketball player.
“I could have made more money in Ireland or Spain, but chose to have an adventure here.
“One cannot come here and see the hunger problem, the inequality and the kids living in poverty without doing something. I wanted to create a social business with a sustainable model,” he said.
He believes that nutrition is where help is first needed ahead of other remedies and that one’s chances of falling into a downward spiral can start at a very young age.
“It’s the nutrition in the first thousand days of a child’s life that matter the most.
“Those who are deprived of good nutrition are most likely to fall through the cracks and suffer things like (mental and physical) stunting.
“People who were malnourished as children are likely to earn 20% less income as adults and complete five fewer grades at school than those who are healthy,” he said.
After Glenwood and Morningside, Constable has his sights set on the market “across the river”, in Durban North.
For more info, visit www.freshbox.co.za