Hillwood Primary School learners in Lavender Hill will be receiving nutritious meals prepared in the newly installed Green Kitchen which was handed over to them by Old Mutual on Thursday 4 August.This is in support of the Department of Basic Education’s National Schools Nutrition Programme (NSNP).The Green Kitchens project mobilises resources to tackle infrastructure problems at schools that serve South Africa’s disadvantaged communities.The principal, Gavin Alkana, says: “You can’t teach a hungry child. So as a school we had to rethink how we could help our learners holistically. That’s when we approached Old Mutual for help. They were also working on helping schools, so our timing was perfect. Now they have donated a modern, smart kitchen which will go a long way in helping our learners,” he says.The school has been running a feeding scheme for some time, but their facilities where not up to standard. “The facility was small and the roof was leaking. This new mobile kitchen is everything to us. Besides playing a major role in the feeding scheme it will help us fundraise and we are also looking into using it as a tuckshop to boost our funds,” says Alkana.Hillwood Primary is one of the sixteen schools across the Northern Cape, Free State, North West, Gauteng and Mpumalanga that have received their fully equipped kitchens valued at over R100 000 each.Geraldine Raatz, Old Mutual’s area manager, explains: “The Green Kitchens project addresses South Africa’s pressing need for food security and improved child nutrition and education. Fully equipped and self-contained kitchen units at under-resourced schools will ensure that disadvantaged learners have at least one hot meal a day,” she says. A recent study by the Centre for Social Development in Africa at the University of Johannesburg found that school feeding schemes increase children’s health and school attendance. According to the study, 13% of South Africa’s learners’ growth and learning ability is inhibited as a result of malnutrition. This situation is significantly improved when children receive one meal a day through school feeding programmes. Alkana also vouched for that. “Feeding a child helps them in every way. It increases their participation and activity in class. Also parents encourage them to come to school knowing that they will have something to eat. It really increases our numbers and our children do well,” he says.The company has committed R350m over seven years to improve mathematics and science education. Old Mutual is a frequent donor to schools and other initiatives include sponsoring the Camp I Am spelling bee series and teaching manuals to increase the level of English proficiency among learners, planting trees on playgrounds, donating school shoes to those in need, and sponsoring name boards that help with building the school’s identity and pride.