Impact SA

CSI fighting child hunger


Tiger Brands Foundation urges businesses to redirect CSI spend towards in-school nutrition programmes.

The scourge of child hunger in South Africa is becoming a growing challenge for many, as poor households continue to come under increasing pressure from the rising cost of living, with steep inflation and surging fuel and food pricing placing additional strain on poor communities.

With more households becoming food insecure due to the tough economic conditions, child hunger is set to grow. As a result, more learners from vulnerable communities are likely to become reliant on government’s National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP), which is an important intervention on which millions of South African learners depend on, for their only source of daily nutrition.

While several NPOs have stepped up to supplement government’s NSNP, such as the Tiger Brands Foundation (TBF), which launched its in-school breakfast programme more than a decade ago, it is bound to come under increasing pressure as child hunger increases.

“Further interventions are certainly needed, and this creates the ideal opportunity for private sector businesses to step in and redirect some of their annual social corporate investment efforts to providing a breakfast meal to learners. Ultimately, this would result in lasting and impactful return on investment,” says Tiger Brands Foundation (TBF) Operations Manager Karl Muller.

Currently, about 9.6 million South African learners are fed by the NSNP at school every day, with the programme aiming to improving the ability of children to learn by combating malnutrition, reducing hunger and improving school attendance.

Need to expand nutrition programmes

Considering these factors, Muller notes that the importance of expanding in-school nutrition programmes cannot be overstated. Since its inception in 2011, TBF’s in-school breakfast programme, which complements the lunch provided by the NSNP, has proven to be one of the most efficient nutrition programmes in South Africa, serving nutritious meals to tens of thousands of learners from underprivileged communities daily.

“TBF provides nutritious breakfasts to almost 67 700 learners each day, at 91 schools around the country in all provinces. While this and similar efforts by other NPOs are making a significant difference in the lives of many learners, we are well aware that the worsening economic conditions that we are facing require us to intensify our efforts,” he adds.

Muller points out that, according to the Trialogue Business in Society Handbook, South African companies spent an estimated R10.9 billion on CSI in the 2022 financial year, which is a 6% increase from the R10.3 billion spent in 2021.

“It is encouraging to see that the amount of CSI spent is steadily increasing as businesses recover from the effects of the pandemic. It is also good to see that education was the most popular cause, supported by 98% of companies and accounting for an average of 44% of CSI expenditure,” he says.

“Similarly, it is also good that NPOs remain the most popular recipients of CSI funding, with 94% of companies directing an average 58% of their spend to these organisations in 2022.”

Importance of nutrition in education

However, Muller argues that in-school nutrition programmes and the NPOs that run them should not be overlooked in terms of companies’ CSI spend, as the need for proper nutrition and the ability to learn go hand in hand.

“We know that hunger is likely to impact a child’s academic performance, with research showing that children from families that are not sure where their next meal will come from are more likely to have lower grades at school, among other challenges,” says Muller.


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