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School Meals For Lesotho's Hungry Children

Serving lunch

Lunch is served at Bolula Primary School in Lesotho’s southern highlands. The World Food Programme supplies the food which is prepared by Government-paid cooks in a nearby kitchen. The children eat at their desks.

Papa and peas

The midday meal consists of peas with papa (maize meal) and salt. At 7 a.m., the children get a breakfast of porridge made with maize meal, oil and sugar. The journey to school can be long. It takes some children an hour or two walking through the mountains.

Mapitso at her desk

Mapitso Khosi (left) says most of the food she gets is at school. The 16-year old and her three siblings live at home with their father. Because of drought, the family farm has produced little for a second year in a row. The fields are bare, she says.

When I grow up

There are 243 children in the school. When asked what they wanted to be when they left school, the students in this class had various answers: teacher, soldier, policeman…One boy said his ambition was to be a lawyer and another a doctor.

Boosting attendance

The meals served at school really boost attendance, says the principal. Currently, the Government feeds 320,000 children in some 1,000 primary schools in the lowlands and foothills, while WFP assists 70,000 children in 430 schools in mountain areas.

Highland playground

A playground with a view…The Government has said it plans to fund the country’s school meals programme in both lowland and mountain areas but has requested WFP to manage and oversee its running for the next five years.

Some without parents

Many of the students are orphans, having lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS. The parents of others have left to work in the mines in neighbouring South Africa. The children will often live with grandparents or are looked after by older siblings.

Skipping time

Energy to burn…during recreation time, the children play ball games or skip using ropes made of grass. Many leave for school on an empty stomach in the morning and some will return to a house with no food for an evening meal.

WFP's school meals are especially appreciated in the highlands of Lesotho at this time. Two successive crop failures mean there often is not much to eat at home. At least the children are guaranteed two sustaining meals at school.