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Table 1 Rural community perspectives on the status of school feeding

From: Community-based nutrition-sensitive approach to address short-term hunger and undernutrition among primary school children in rural areas in a developing country setting: lessons from North and North-Eastern Uganda

Themes of Discussion Overall FGD findings
Overall status of school feeding School-wide feeding programs are largely unavailable. Only parents who can afford to pack food or pay extra fees for feeding can have their children eat at school (these are very few). Previous school feeding interventions sponsored by Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) closed when projects ended. Nutritional quality of food is usually not taken into consideration in school feeding program designs thus meals are largely limited to corn-based porridge for breakfast.
The necessity of school feeding There is consensus over the need to provide food to school-going children. It is strongly believed that providing meals will keep pupils at school and help them study better. The need for school food to meet the nutritional needs of children is well appreciated (considered important). However, nutritious food recipes tailored for application in school feeding in rural areas are largely unavailable.
Constraints to school feeding Resources are inadequate (parents are unable to access adequate food at home as well as for school feeding) thus packed lunch is hard to afford. Foods previously provided and promoted by NGOs are expensive for parents while there are no clear guidelines and laws in place to enforce mandatory school feeding in rural schools.
Possible local community alternatives to school feeding School gardening would be suitable since most schools in rural areas have farmland. Parents and school administration can also engage to produce food for school feeding. Local staple foods can be mobilised for school feeding from parents.
Knowledge of nutritional needs of school children and the improvement of local food resources There is limited understanding of the nutritional quality of foods (current food provision focuses on supplying energy) by parents and women food vendors while teachers are aware of the nutrition needs of school children. No specific technologies are known or practised to improve the nutritional quality of local staple foods at community levels or in rural schools. Local community members lack knowledge on how to improve the nutritional quality of local foods.
Community-level partnerships for school feeding Previously some NGOs such as World food program (WFP) and World Vision International have sponsored school feeding programs but with limited participation of the community. Thus NGO-led programs did not continue after NGO funding ceased. Existing school feeding initiatives are school-led, with limited involvement of parents and the general community in their design. The notion of active participation of the community in producing and processing food for school feeding programs is highly appreciated and is believed to ensure program ownership and sustainability.
Willingness to work with partners in the design and testing innovations on school feeding based on local food resources Perceived as a good opportunity to gain knowledge and skills in nutrition interventions for local application. Use of local food resources would make school feeding more affordable for parents and rural schools. Building capacity in food processing would be a good business opportunity for the small scale women food processors and vendors to address the nutrition needs of school children.
  1. Summary of information from eight focus group discussions (FGDs) with rural women food vendors, parents, and primary school administrators and teachers in north and north-eastern Uganda.