Harare — ZIMBABWE has launched the African Day of School Feeding, instituted by the African Union (AU) in 2016 in recognition of the immense value of Home-Grown School Feeding (HGSF).
Vice President Kembo Mohadi flagged off the third edition in Glen View, in the capital Harare under the theme, "Realising the African the African Day of School Feeding."
Senior officials from the African Union as well as ministers, deputy ministers from Ivory Coast, Gambia, Niger, South Sudan and Liberia as well as representatives from over 30 African countries attended.
Mohadi said school feeding was an essential tool for development which the drought-prone country considered an investment in a special context, other than merely attracting learners to school.
"We need to bear in mind that failure to invest in food and nutrition security, particularly for children, would retard the development of our countries in socio-economic terms," Mohadi said.
Prof. Sarah Anyang Agbor, AU Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, said more local resources must be invested in developing HGSF, to build self-reliance and long term resilience.
"The academic community is also called upon to contribute to the knowledge base of school feeding to ensure optimal outcomes," she said.
Daily, nearly 10 million children receive a meal at school in Africa. World Food Programme supports or implements school meals in 40 countries on the continent.
"WFP is committed to support countries implement Homegrown School Feeding Programmes in Africa," said Stanlake Samkange WFP Senior Director: Strategic Coordination and Support.
With HGSF, food is sourced from local smallholder farmers, thus boosting income generation and entrepreneurship in local communities.
School meals have been proven to enhance retention and improve the performance of children in school as well as enhancing a child's concentration in class.