Rising prices a huge worry for school food scheme

2008-04-25 00:00

Food price hikes could have an adverse effect on impoverished schoolchildren benefiting from the Education Department’s feeding scheme, as suppliers say it is no longer viable to be in the business.

There are about 1 000 suppliers contracted with the department to supply food to schools and last year over 1 467 760 school children in KZN benefited from the School Nutrition Programme.

Speaking to Weekend Witness, many of the suppliers admitted they don’t serve fruit, which is not only expensive, but demands fresh daily supplies. Bread is also off the menu, because the price is constantly rising. And with rice expected to increase by 30% next week, they said it is getting impossible to feed children for R1,30 each per day.

Lucky Mnikathi said oil and gas are his most serious concerns.

"Gas currently costs R630 for a 48-kg cylinder used by the schools we supply. It is rare for that 48 kg to last a whole month.

"Now, if the department is paying a standard of R500 for gas and gas goes up every three months, how are we supposed to survive?"

Pinkie Mkhize said suppliers are mostly enraged by the fact that the department never pays on time. What makes matters worse is that quotes are based on current costs, which they are bound to regardless of the number of times they increase.

"Things are definitely getting worse. It is disheartening," she said.

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