A 2012 study conducted by Makerere University with support from UNICEF found that 43% of children under 5 years old suffered from stunted growth and brain development caused by malnutrition. Most children of this age receive the majority of their food from schools, who do not currently consider the nutritional value of their meals, instead prioritising cost. As a result school food generally comprises a limited range of ingredients, often just maize meal and beans. Therefore, schools themselves are contributing to the children's poor developmental status.
Omushana has been working since 2017 to improve nutritional and health standards of primary school children by developing better school meal programmes and educating children, school staff, parents and communities about the importance of a varied diet particularly in young children.
Beginning as a pilot scheme in three schools, varied menus comprising affordable, locally available foods were developed and school kitchen staff were trained in their preparation and importance. The whole school community, including parents, community leaders and the children themselves were involved in making the changes.
We now take a programme of workshops, seminars and practical cooking sessions lead by local nutritionists and chefs to villages and schools throughout the region and are already seeing amazing benefits of the programme. Many schools now supplement the diets of their pupils with milk, fish, peanuts, fruits and vegetables. And the parents are also providing more varied diets at home.
Taking the programme to a new community/school costs around £500 to cover the cost of the seminar, training and encouraging hundreds of community members to sample the menus!
Our target is to reach at least 5 new communities by the end of 2024.
To help us continue this work around Bwindi Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park please DONTE now.