The School Feeding Project for Social Register of Mauritius (SRM) beneficiaries of the Grand Port district was launched yesterday, on a pilot basis, at the Mahebourg Social Welfare Centre. The project is a joint initiative of the National Empowerment Foundation (NEF), the Omnicane Foundation and the Mauritius Union Foundation.
The objective of the project is to provide students who are SRM beneficiaries, with a hot meal on a daily basis to reduce short-term hunger and cases of malnutrition that may otherwise impair their academic performance. A total of 85 children, from pre-primary school and Grade one, from the region of Mahebourg and Rose-Belle will benefit from this programme, up to the end of the academic year.
In his address on the occasion, the Chief Administrator of the NEF, Mr Clive Auffray highlighted that the project forms part of the numerous strategies of the Community Working Group (CWG), in line with the Marshall Plan, to mobilise resources, conceptualise projects and coordinate efforts of various actors to tackle poverty at grassroot levels.
The School Feeding project, he said, is designed to alleviate the hunger, improve nutrition and cognition of disadvantaged children. He underlined that serving an appropriate meal to malnourished children will certainly contribute to positive outcomes in terms of their physical and psychosocial health as well as academic performance and hence, reduce the level of absenteeism at school.
Mr Auffray further observed that education is an important catalyst in the combat against poverty and that it can help the vulnerable group to overcome intergenerational poverty that affects their life chances. Subsequently, he urged parents to encourage their wards to follow an appropriate academic path so that they acquire the key asset to forge their way out of poverty.
Furthermore, he reiterated Government's priorities of uplifting vulnerable groups from the cycle of poverty and support and empower them to integrate the mainstream society to live in dignity. He emphasised that these goals will be attained more efficiently and easily with the conjoint efforts of the private sector and NGOs as demonstrated by the initiatives of the CWG.