KZN pupils go hungry on first day of second term after schools nutrition tender mess-up

One supplier was allegedly given this foodstuff to give to a school to feed 1000 learners in one week. Picture: Supplied

One supplier was allegedly given this foodstuff to give to a school to feed 1000 learners in one week. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 12, 2023


Durban - Thousands of learners across KwaZulu-Natal had to attend classes hungry on Wednesday after the highly contested school nutrition multi-million-rand tender encountered several challenges.

Some food suppliers could not deliver the required food stock to schools on the first day of the second term.

In some cases, schools were forced to ration after the food that was brought was not sufficient to cater for all pupils.

In other schools, principals and school-governing bodies had to dig from their coffers to ensure pupils had something to eat and learn.

Several panicked suppliers contacted IOL in the morning, complaining about the challenges they were facing.

One of the challenges they encountered was when they were sent to collect the food from one of the prominent food retailers in Durban and were turned back.

“Suppliers are being turned back and told to go to another far-away supermarket to collect their food stock.

“That is very frustrating as they spend a lot of time and this is poor communication on the side of the department,” one supplier, who asked not to be named, told IOL.

Those who were lucky enough to receive supplies received small portions and some principals refused to sign and accept them.

“If you are lucky to get the supplies, you get a tiny portion and you are told it is for 1 000 learners.

“You can see that the number of learners mentioned cannot be fed by the food given out,” another supplier said.

IOL learnt that one of the schools where learners did not have food was Siyanda MaZulu in KwaMashu, Durban.

Other schools that did not receive food stocks are in the rural Umkhanyakude district, in the north of the province.

Insiders in the school said that in the past, the KwaMashu school was supplied with little food and pupils were served small pints of food just to save face.

Other suppliers in the Durban area were moved from one supermarket to another until they gave up and ended up not delivering at all.

As a result of the latest bungle, some of these suppliers are considering downing tools until the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education commits to fix the tender mess.

The department has since acknowledged the challenges experienced in a memo sent to principals and SGBs.

“The implications are that some schools will receive food items on time and prepare the meals on time.

“However, most schools will receive their food items late and preparations will start late, which will result in feeding late and even non-feeding,” read part of the memo.

The department has asked schools to use food stocks that were left over from the previous term and cook it for pupils.

“In order to mitigate possible non-feeding, where food may have not been delivered to schools by 8am, schools are advised to use surplus stock left over from the previous quarter.

“It is advised that schools prepare whatever is available so that learners will not go hungry.

“As such, schools are guided to cook whatever surplus they may have and feed learners,” the department instructed schools in the memo seen by IOL.

Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi did not respond when asked how the major retailer was now supplying came into the picture since it was not there.

He also did not respond to a question regarding what the department was doing to ensure that all learners were fed and on time.

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