School Meals and Porridge

  • School Meals
  • School Meals 2
  • School Meals 3
  • School Meals 4
  • School Meals 5

Project Description

School meals began in 2007, initially to 40 children, in the final year of primary school (P6) and gradually extended to other pupils as funds grew and systems consolidated.

It was extended to cover P6 to P4 pupils (age 13 to 11) up until 2011. A lunch time hot meal costs £0.40. Children get a diversified menu including meat and small fish (locally known as Injanga) dishes once a week.

This is a great incentive for our pupils, who in the pre-meal survey indicated that they only had a meat dish once year – on New Year’s Day. Also, in contrast to the boarding schools we surveyed, this is very much a luxury. Some boarding schools in Rwanda provide a meat dish only once in every three months!

An attractive menu was developed to incentivize these children, many of whom would work in fields alongside their parents rather than going to school. After all, in 2007, only 6 to 8% of Rwandan children completed a full course of primary.

As accountability and value for money are integral to our ethos, RSVP launched a tender for the provision of meals. This was done openly and democratically whereby a caterer with the best weekly menu for the right unitary cost won the tender. This caterer then provided meals at an agreed price and terms.

The expansion of school meals was rather slow – it had only covered P6 to P3 between 2007 and 2011 - far too slow! The high meal cost was quickly identified as a limiting factor (£0.40/meal). Hence, Rwanda and UK teams started to look for alternative nutrition that would be both attractive and nutritive.

In 2011, a tender was again made for the provision of porridge. This was based on formula used by the ministry of health to treat malnutrition: sorghum, maze and soya (SOSOMA) with sugar added to taste. A porridge cup is 500ml and costs only £0.09!

After an initial trial of serving porridge to P1 to P3 pupils, meals were slowly phased out. As of 2013, only P6 pupils receive meals, and P1 to P5 have SOSOMA porridge. Two caterers, each employing up to 7 Bugarama people, provide porridge and meals, buying crops from local farmers at harvest. Though the preparation methods and kitchen might not pass the UK’s food standards agency tests, each caterer must possess a local restaurant licence. There has been to date no major infection problem at the school.

Since May 2013, under a NMP, 2 milking cows were purchased and used for the porridge, our sponsorship program and our malnutrition Program also known as JMP. The cow's milk was added to porridge as a way of fortification.