According to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the COVID-19 pandemic could almost double the number of people suffering from acute hunger around the world, pushing it to more than a quarter of a billion by the end of 2020.
Food insecurity already exists within our communities, and these challenges are amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. As an early public health response to the pandemic, President Ramaphosa closed all schools on March 18th. Shortly after the school closures, the National Lockdown was instated, requiring most everyone to stay home. School closures have been important to control the spread of the virus, however, prolonged closures have disproportionately affected vulnerable learners. Beyond the numerous learning disadvantages, without school meals, many vulnerable learners are struggling to meet daily nutrient intake. The Minister of Basic Education announced that Grades 7 and 12 will return to school starting on June 1st, and additional grades will return on a phased basis (which is yet to be announced). This time off far surpasses typical school holidays (typically 2-6 weeks), putting added pressure on families.
Typically, the Bulungula Incubator provides two daily nutritious meals for learners at our preschools and the Bulungula College. With the prolonged time off from school however, many of our families are struggling to provide their children with three meals a day. Since 2018, the BI has partnered with the Lunchbox Fund to provide school meals to learners at the Bulungula College. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lunchbox Fund has furthered their services to provide meal parcels to all families for food relief. The first week of May we received and distributed 147 parcels of food to families in all 4 villages of our community. This relief has been graciously received, and is vital to ensure the continued nourishment of our learners so they can return to school healthy and ready to learn!