Zambia School Feeding Updates!
Misisi Compound, Lusaka, Zambia ~ We send greetings from all of your brothers & sisters in Zambia! We had a very successful visit, with a lot of work being accomplished preparing us for wonderful advances that we know God is preparing for us!
One thing that presented itself during our visit caused us to be reminded of how important it is for us to make these annual in-person visits because not all aspects of partnership can be adequately attended to via virtual meetings, and online reporting processes.
During our daily meetings, interactions, and movements on the school property, we began to notice a concerning trend as the lunch periods would conclude, the garbage bins would be filled to the brim with large portions of discarded food.
We met with the school administration to inquire why this would be; and they explained that since the pandemic has caused the prices of food to rise significantly, especially chicken, they made the decision to modify the meats being served. The students were receiving spicy sausage twice a week, and ground hamburger, shredded chicken, and bone-in beef pieces on the other 3 days. On the days they were given the spicy sausage, the discarding is far greater, because there is not one person that likes these sausages, as they are too spicy and bother their stomachs. They explained that the children won't eat the nshima without the meat portions, causing them to throw even more food away.
Additionally, many students and teachers had been asking to NOT receive the daily cabbage serving, because it causes issues with their digestion, which then causes the meals to be incomplete - both for filling their bellies, but also, in providing the proper nutrients they need.
Pastor Kalinsky and I (Sis. Adrienne) began to put our thinking caps on and went back & forth with 'What if we did this?' or 'What if we did that?' Then, God dropped a thought into Pastor's head... (let's backtrack a minute!) We have made a great friendship with all the staff at this hotel we stay at, and over the last couple of visits, this grew to include an amazing bond with the chef at the hotel restaurant.
Pastor Kalinsky asked if the chef was free to chat for a minute. Chef Dominic came out and we started asking him questions about canned goods versus fresh, and the accessibility of a sausage that is not spicy, explaining to him our plight. Not only did he answer our questions, but, he went a step further and offered to put together a sample menu for the school, connected us to HIS butcher, and then proceeded to arrange a meeting with our entire team, along with the butcher to see what we could brainstorm!
This conversation with him was on the last Thursday of our visit, and just 2 days later, the day before we had to leave for home, there we were - the 2 BLOC School cooks, the 2 BLOC School administrators, Chef Dominic, Mwiza the butcher's wife, Pastor Kalinsky and me - putting all of our strengths together to develop a plan!
Mwiza (the butcher's wife) brought samples of her non-spicy sausages, homemade meatballs, and bone-in beef portions for us to try. The chef had his team cook these meats for us to sample - Boy were they delicious!
Per the chef's advice, he suggested doing a 2-week menu rotation where the children will not be able to predict what their lunch will be on any given day - he said that this alone will bring excitement & joy to their meals.
Since we returned home, and after a lot of work going back & forth on the budget, altering the menu to best fit the nutritional needs of the school, and trying to keep costs as low as we possibly could - we finally settled on a menu.
The first day that the students each received a full piece of chicken on the bone, they squealed with excitement asking, "Wow! Is this Christmas?!"
The beans have been a huge hit! They just LOVE it when it is Bean Lunch Day!
The School Director, Madame Kabika shares:
"Words cannot be enough to express our heartfelt gratitude for the change of the menu for our students. As you may be aware, there is a huge correlation between nutrition and high performance in students. This improved nutrition has the potential to positively influence students' academic performance and behavior. Apart from that, this will lead to help students show up at school prepared to learn."
Students are so excited about the change in the menu. They have expressed so much joy about this and how this is a dream come true for them and the school as a whole. This is unbelievable to the students, as they did not expect that one day their menu was going to change; but through your love and kindness, you have made it happen."
"We will be forever grateful for this uncommon gesture, AND you'll be happy to know - their bellies are full and happy; BUT, their plates are cleared and empty at the conclusion of lunch! NO MORE WASTE!!"
As you can imagine, these changes, YES, increase the cost of daily feeding significantly.
Last year, the average cost per meal was $0.41 - this new menu will bring the cost to $1.00 per meal.
YOU CAN BE A PART!
Many donors have reached out to our team to begin sponsorship to support the finances of the feeding updates; as well as, wishing to do more for sponsoring the school as a whole. Here are some financial details to help you understand the BLOC School Sponsorship needs:
At the start of this year, WWLM made the decision to earmark some general funds to support a very small increase in the teacher & school workers' salaries, as the economy has declined so greatly that they could no longer adequately make ends meet. This increase was very much welcomed and appreciated, but it doesn't ease the burden enough.
To bring the teachers & school workers up to the pay levels that they are qualified to receive, and that is comparable to other job opportunities available to them at other schools, the total cost is:
$3,500/month for all 14 teachers & support staff
$250/month per school worker
Regarding the daily feeding alone for the entire school, with the changes we've made to the menu, the cost comes to around $1/meal
At an approximate monthly school attendance of 20 days, it comes to about $20 per month to sponsor ONE person's daily feeding for the month.