Ike Garson visited the club on 23rd July to speak to us about Lunch4Learning, an organisation that works in Uganda.
Ike, the director of Lunch4Learning, had worked for many years as both teacher and advisor for Oxfordshire County Council Education Department. Since his retirement he has set up the Lunch4Learning charity which aims to encourage the sustainable provision of school dinners in Ugandan schools.
During his time with Oxfordshire County Council (OCC), 66 schools in Oxfordshire were working with schools in Uganda in 5 different areas. Ike visited the country several times and realised that the standards of learning were abysmal for two major reasons: firstly, children were going to school without having had a breakfast and secondly, whilst at school they did not get anything to eat or drink.
Ike took early retirement from OCC and set up the charity, Lunch4Learning which is working in the Jinja District of Uganda which has 87 primary schools. Over time, the aim is for schools to become increasingly independent of the charity’s financial support, making the programme sustainable. The land in the area is fertile and produces two crops per year.
What is Lunch4Learning trying to do?
To raise the standards of learning through the provision of a midday meal by sustainable means.
To continually improve the nutritional quality of these meals.
To help schools provide water for drinking, cooking and hand washing.
To help schools provide a breakfast meal at the start of the day.
How does Lunch4Learning do this?
Provide start-up funds to plant out a school garden with a small proportion set aside for seeds and ploughing, the harvest goes into the kitchens to feed the children. When the first harvest is sold at market, 40% goes to the school kitchen with 60% to Lunch4Learning. Then, as long as the school agrees to put the money towards buying more land to grow more crops, the 60% is given back to them to increase their profitability. Then when the next crop is grown, they will get more. Currently, children are going to the sugar plantations to eat the sugar cane and there is an explosion in diabetes.
Provide start-up funds to set up an Income Generating Project (IGP)/mini business that will continue to bring income long after Lunch4Learning has helped the school achieve sustainability.
Committed funds to ensure schools have effective water harvesting options for cooking, drinking and hand-washing.
To encourage support and intervention from parents, faith groups, local and national politicians through an advocacy programme that raises awareness of children’s hunger in schools.
How will Lunch4Learning know they’ve done it?
Increase in attendance rates
Improved Primary Leaving Exams (PLE) results (ages 12-13)
Larger numbers pupils transfer to secondary school
How are Lunch4Learning funds used?
To provide mobile milling services to the school on site as part of their on-going development. Costs will include transport, milling machines and related on-going costs. Taking the service to school would ensure the maize gets form the field to the school kitchens.
To provide funding to 35 schools to help them develop IGPs – pig farming, brick making, poultry farming, growing maize.
To install 10,000 litre tanks with guttering in school involved with our programme – to replace a tap = £3, to replace a 10 metre gutter line = £18. Looking to build 30 water tanks in conjunction with Haileybury Youth Trust.
To build a plant for the production of organic briquettes. Schools use firewood cut down from eucalyptus trees which is costing them £2.50 per bag. Supplying the school with briquettes will save the schools money and will be environmentally responsible. The briquettes are made from the husks from maize and leaves from banana trees.
£1.14 will feed one child for one term; £3.50 will feed 1 child for a year.
All Lunch4Learning staff are working in the UK salary free and in Uganda they employ a Programme Manager, a Schools Development Supervisor and a Data & Communication Assistant. They do not work through government departments.
This model would work in other countries where you can grow two crops in a year. One concern of Lunch4Learning however is that children are not being fed at home because parents say that they have been fed at school.
The programme is supported by various Rotary Clubs and the Rotary Club of Haddenham & District is leading in obtaining a global grant from the Rotary Foundation to help to increase the scope of the work.
Global Grant Application