Gauteng to prioritise hungry pupils for feeding schemes

MEC Panyaza Lesufi in front of a truck loaded with essential items to be handed to the needy. (Ntwaagae Seleka, News24)
MEC Panyaza Lesufi in front of a truck loaded with essential items to be handed to the needy. (Ntwaagae Seleka, News24)

The Gauteng government will prioritise providing meals during the lockdown for children, who otherwise rely on school nutrition programmes.

Acting Social Development MEC Panyaza Lesufi during a visit to a food bank in Booysens on Wednesday said: "Our target for this intervention is children."

Lesufi added the department recently launched a programme in Gauteng called Batho Pele (People First). 

"Even before the coronavirus, we said the only thing that attracts us to a family is a child. But, the child doesn't stay alone, the child stays with a family and it is extended there. 

"I have established a joint task team between the departments of education and social development. The aim is to check how they assist."

Lesufi said some schools in the province have stock meant for pupils' nutrition which had been in place as part of the measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

He added the two departments needed to find a mechanism of not allowing the stock at schools to rot while children were starving at home.

"The stock was bought with the intention of assisting poor children and they will be guided by the national education department. When they give us guidelines, we will know when to utilise that stock.

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"From a social development point of view, we are targeting families with children so they can be protected and supported. In our approach, we are saying there are families receiving social grants. At least, there is some form of intervention there. They must not crowd those who don't get anything," Lesufi said.

He added those receiving social grants should step aside.

"Let us target those who have absolute nothing. There are people needing assistance and our children are incorporated.

"We have written to schools that can be on standby and assist us. There are some communities where the only proper structure is a school which could be used for the distribution of food parcels."

Lesufi said officers from the cities of Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg would escort food trucks when food parcels were distributed.

Food parcels will be distributed door to door or at drop-off zones, not at mass meetings.

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