KZN School Food Provider Cancels Contract
The National School Nutrition Program situation in the KwaZulu-Natal province has been the subject of discussion for weeks, and now the food supplier has indicated that it is pulling out of the bidding. The department has taken action to keep the program alive.
With a budget of more than R2 billion to support more than 2 million students across 5 400 schools in the province, KwaZulu-Natal is the program’s biggest beneficiary.
The company that won the tender, Pacina Retail, has left students without food for the last three weeks.
More than 5,000 students were left without a daily meal and forced to study on an empty stomach because food supplies hadn’t been delivered to schools since they restarted after the Easter break.
Due to this, some schools had to send students home early.
Because of the food crisis, there are many worries and inquiries about why only one supplier, as opposed to several as in previous years, won the feeding program’s tender.
The province’s South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) has expressed great worry about the non-delivery of food goods.
SADTU KZN Provincial Secretary Nomarashiya Caluza, explains that school staff and management have indicated that the crisis is still prevalent adding that while some schools are receiving supplies, it is not enough to feed all learners.
“We notice that in some schools, the material provided is not fit for feeding students, which is why we are pleading with the Department of Education to act right away.”
The chosen service provider ran into logistical issues, according to the KZN education department, which caused the suspension in the school nutrition program.
The province’s opposition parties have praised the revelation of the contractor’s firing and said the department and service provider should be held accountable for their actions.
Speaking at a media briefing at the ANC provincial offices in Durban on Wednesday (26 April 2023) ANC KZN secretary Bheki Mtolo announced that actions will be taken to save the programme.
The National School Nutrition Programme has problems, according to the people of this province, who have voiced this collectively over the last few days. This includes both young and old people of all races.
ANC representatives met with MEC Mbali Frazer, according to Mtolo, “to go over submissions from the people of this province.”
“We have received contributions from groups involved in education, traditional leadership, religious leaders, political leaders, and youth formations; all of these groups have voiced their disapproval of how the NSNP is being implemented.”
He observed that during her trips to various schools, the MEC evaluated the program’s rollout and provided input.
“After the MEC’s submission, we agreed that it is obvious that the program is on the verge of total collapse and that drastic measures must be taken,” he adds.
Mtolo characterized the nutrition program as “a bold step to achieve social justice for the most vulnerable in our society,” rather than as a charitable endeavor.
The government claimed that it was in the process of alerting retailers and warehouses that had previously stocked food supplies for the program to the abrupt change in circumstances so that they could prepare for the unanticipated spike in demand.