The Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) Friday kick-started its ZW$1 million schools feeding scheme in Cyclone ravaged areas as part of its efforts aimed at to alleviating malnutrition and improve school attendance among pupils from poor families.
Ten schools which were identified with the assistance of the education ministry are set to benefit in the phase one of the project which is expected to end in December this year. Phase one will run as a pilot project.
Resources permitting, Phase 2 which is scheduled to start in 2020, is expected to see close to 100 schools being incorporated into the scheme.
Cyclone Idai battered the eastern areas of Manicaland province such as Chimanimani and Chipinge leaving a trail of destruction of property and massive human and animal deaths.
Speaking at a handover over event of the consignment to school heads, Grain Millers Association chairman, Tafadzwa Musarara said the consignment includes sugar beans, salt, mealie meal and mahewu.
He said beneficiaries will be given porridge in the morning, mahewu at break time and maize meal and beans in the afternoon.
Musarara said the scheme was meant to fight stunted growth which is usually experienced in children who live in areas which will have been affected by such disasters.
“Most importantly, this scheme will help encourage attendances in schools. Some schools are remotely located and there is a lot of walking to and from and we felt that as businesses, moreso indigenous who have been enabled and empowered by government in the food sector, it’s our responsibility to take a step forward.
“We have more that we can offer in this programme but we stand guided by government on how should we move forward,” said Musarara.
He said GMAZ will work with government and school heads in the affected areas to ensure the project succeeds.
“As GMAZ, we are deeply touched by events which transpired in this area in Chimanimani which were highly unprecedented and the calamity was never anticipated by anyone. We feel we owe it to the people who support us, the people of Zimbabwe and we need to pay back through our corporate social responsibility,” said Musarara.
For the project to succeed, Musarara implored the school heads to be transparent and apolitical during the implementation phase.
“We are here to create goodwill and make good to our children as they are the leaders of tomorrow and pay back to the community and nothing else. We need to be transparent and accountable. We believe schools are a neutral ground please feed everyone. We don’t want some individuals to hijack the project.
“We don’t expect to receive reports of food missing in the schools. Going forward, we will not impose or tell you how to run these schemes but we want to work with your communities,” said Musarara.
The Harare businessman also announced the millers’ group will reconstruct Mary Waters school in the area which was also destroyed by the tropical Cyclone.
GMAZ Vice chairperson Chipo Nheta said one of its member firms, National Foods will adopt one school which will be renovated to the tune of ZWL$200 000.
He added that GMAZ is also considering giving scholarships and grants to students gifted in sports and academics.
Chitinha primary acting head Miriam Mugebe in Nedziwa said before the Cyclone their areas were already affected by drought and this project come at an opportune time.
“Before the cyclone there was drought and as schools we were worried about the issue of carbohydrates and protein. We were not getting it. This has a physiological effect as hungry kids cannot concentrate. This project will encourage kids to love school,” said Mugebe.
In March, GMAZ handed over a consignment of food stuffs worth $250 000 to Cyclone ravaged communities.
Some of the happy recipients of the donation