Gauteng Premier David Makhura says restoring the school feeding scheme during the lockdown would endanger the learners’ lives and violate COVID-19 regulations.

A group of Non-Governmental Organisations including Equal Education and Section 27 have reportedly written a letter to Education Minister Angie Motshekga to restore the national school nutrition programme to benefit the estimated nine million vulnerable children.

In the video, General Secretary of Equal Education, Noncedo Madubedube, says the Basic Education Department needs to ensure that learners still receive food:

A number of households are food insecure and for many children the free school meal was their only one for the day.

Makhura says he cannot entertain such a request at the moment.

“If all the kids were to gather at our schools everyday for the school feeding, we are exposing them to the dangers of infections. They will infect each other. We can’t entertain that. The reasons the schools are closed, we want to protect the kids.”

COVID-19 food bank launched 

Earlier, Makhura said food parcels will only be given to those who need them most and not those who are politically connected. He was speaking at the launch of a COVID- 19 food bank in Ekurhuleni on Gauteng’s Eastrand.

The food bank is one of several in the province which have been opened to collect food donations for distribution to the poor through a ward-based system.

Makhura said they will ensure the food reaches the needy. He said that over 3 million people in Gauteng are food insecure, meaning they do not have enough food to last them for a week.

Makhura said those who qualify for food parcels will be identified through the municipality’s list of indigent families, but this, too, will need to be scrutinized by social workers to ensure that deserving families get food.

Families, whose children already get food as part of the school nutrition programme, will automatically qualify for food assistance.

Makhura said there are five distribution points across Gauteng providing thousands of households with food each day.