Durban - The many challenges engulfing the KwaZulu-Natal schools' feeding scheme are expected to continue in the coming week after suppliers started the weekend not knowing where to go and collect their foodstuff to be delivered to schools the following week.
The challenge which has since been said to be a logistical one, started on Wednesday when schools in KwaZulu-Natal started their second term of schooling.
The provincial Department of Education changed its school nutrition tender by introducing a main supplier which would supply the smaller suppliers.
The smaller suppliers take the food stock from a distribution point and send it to schools to prepare for learners.
The unnamed main supplier allegedly told the sub-contractors to go and collect their foodstuff from their nearest Spar supermarkets.
When they got to the supermarkets, they were told that there was no such arrangement and they were turned away.
Later in the day, they were told to go to CheckSave supermarkets in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and when they got there, they hit a snag.
Those who were able to get stock, got very small portions which they were told would be used to feed learners for a week.
As a result, thousands of schools were left without food and others were forced to suspend classes for the remainder of the week.
Some principals were forced to divert funds meant for other school needs and go buy food so as to salvage learning.
In a damage-control exercise, the department issued a memo to principals and School Governing Bodies (SGBs) and told them to use foodstuff left over from the previous term and ensure that learners got fed.
“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.
“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 said in the memo seen by IOL.
By 2pm on Saturday, only those around uMgungundlovu had been informed via SMS to go and collect their foodstuff from Royal Rice depot in Pietermaritzburg.
According to the SMS from the department, they should collect their foodstuff on Sunday and deliver it to schools on Monday morning.
While the uMgungundlovu district appears to have found a collection point, districts like eThekwini, uThukela, Zululand and uMkhanyakude were still in the dark about where they would collect their foodstuff.
A supplier from Zululand said they had still not been told where to go to collect their food and distribute it to schools.
“We haven’t heard anything from the department and we fear that even in the coming week we will not be able to deliver food stock to schools.
“I am told that our counterparts in the uThukela district are still facing a similar dilemma, but let us wait and see,” the supplier told IOL on Saturday afternoon.
Also still in the dark about their collection point is the Harry Gwala district where schools remain without food, almost a week after schooling resumed.
The department’s spokesperson, Muzi Mahlambi, did not comment when asked by IOL whether they can assure the province that all schools will have food by Monday.