The Mozambique School Lunch Initiative is a non-profit organization that invests in community-owned school lunch programs to improve child nutrition and stimulate agricultural development.
Consistent school meals help prevent malnutrition and keep children in school as they no longer have to forage for roots during lean seasons. We collaborate with the government health services to deliver deworming and iron supplementation in conjunction with the school meals, increasing the nutritional impact. To sustain our program, we develop local agricultural supply chains by providing farmers with improved inputs like seeds and irrigation equipment. We use some of the produce directly in the school lunches and sell the rest in markets. In doing so, we provide farmers with a route to market and creates a revenue-generating mechanism for sustaining the school lunch program. This integrated approach tackles nutrition from a short and long-term perspective: through targeted assistance in schools as well as incentivizing more productive agricultural systems.
Why is this important?
In Mozambique, 80 percent of the population cannot afford an adequate diet and almost half of children are considered to be chronically malnourished. This harms children’s physical and cognitive development and reinforces cyclical poverty in rural areas. School feeding programs are a targeted way to address this challenge, but currently reach less than 5 percent of all primary schools in Mozambique. By working at the grassroots level and empowering communities to be part of the value chain, we create a sustainability-mechanism that allows school lunch programs to scale to more schools.