Most parents will tell you that it's difficult to get a child excited about eating kale, but the students at Mphandu Pandu Primary school in Zambia savor every flavor-filled mouthful.

Back to all stories | Posted on 11/03/21 in NewsBlog

The school is growing their own produce in empty Mary’s Meals food sacks giving the students fresh, nutritious vegetables to eat along with their fortified porridge – and they’re proving to be quite a highlight!

Food insecurity is alarmingly high in Zambia, particularly in the Eastern Province where Mary’s Meals operates its large school feeding program. Almost half of the population cannot reach their required daily calorie intake.

Schools all over the world are embracing garden projects as a means of educating children about nutrition and cultivation, as well as encouraging a healthy lifestyle as they grow. This school in Zambia started out with those same goals, but the ambitious students have found yet another benefit.

Joyce Chipeta, a 14-year-old Grade 7 student told us: “Sometimes when we have school events like sports, we cook the vegetables from our mobile gardens. Selling vegetables also helps the school in buying basic things that are needed to operate well. We managed to raise money for buying school stuff, such as chalks and pens from the first produce.”

The children at Mphandu Pandu Primary are learning to support themselves financially by farming the land, while also enjoying delicious vegetables and their vitamin-enriched Mary’s Meals porridge. They currently grow kale but have plans to branch out into cabbage, spinach, carrots and onions.

Joyce even said that she is keen to pursue an agricultural career: “The school garden is very important to me because it equips my mind with essential skills and knowledge for the future. We are taught how to water and remove weeds from the crops, as well as how to identify and destroy various pests.

“My wish is to see this school gardening initiative grow big so that every student, especially those who come from vulnerable homes, can benefit from the project by buying them books, pens and even uniforms.”

This school garden project in Zambia is similar to one that was introduced in the early days of our school feeding program in Liberia, following 14 long years of civil war. Many schools still run the gardens with the goal of giving students and future generations additional tools for self-sufficiency.

Emmanuel Williams is a 10-year-old student at the Tomorrow’s People Foundation School in Bong County. He said: “I really like the vegetable garden – so much so that I get seriously involved with their planting. I help to plant, weed and water the garden. I feel so enthusiastic about working in the garden and enjoy the fruits of our labor.”

 

Back in Zambia, school headteacher Mr. Tenson Nyirenda shared that the venture began partly as a way of enhancing the nutritious lunches provided by Mary’s Meals, but quickly became much more. “The school mobile gardening has become an amazing interdisciplinary educational tool allowing subjects to be taught such as Home Economics, Environmental Science, and Nutrition. Children are the future leaders of our nation and for them to reach their fullest potential, a healthy diet is very important for their minds and development of their bodies.”