Free school meals make a big difference

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The Fortify Education Foundation (FEF), which first launched its School Meal Programme at a school in Orangi Town in February 2020, is now providing free meals to about 515 children in underprivileged schools in the area.

Pakistan, a country where the share of children amounts to approximately 35 percent of the total population, has one of the highest levels of prevalence of child malnutrition, compared to other developing and underdeveloped nations. Given the fact that proper nutrition has a very positive impact on children’s learning, the Fortify Education Foundation (FEF) launched its School Meal Programme (SMP) to offer free meals to children in the school setting to provide children the much-needed nourishment and motivation they need to pursue education to secure their future.

‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,’ says a Chinese proverb. In a similar vein, the Fortify Education Foundation (FEF) began its journey in February 2020, by starting its School Meal Programme at a school in Orangi Town in Karachi, where around 260 children come to study.“Orangi Town was the most suitable place to launch the FEF initiative since Orangi is the world’s largest slum with a population of over 2.4 million, which is severely disadvantaged, both in terms of their income levels and their living conditions,” Naveed Gilani, Founder, Fortify Education Foundation (FEF), said.

Since the launch of the School Meal Programme in Orangi, the student enrolment rate reached its all-time high. “Having received such a positive response to the initiative, we approached the Education Department of the Sindh government with an offer to replicate the programme in the government schools operating in the area and they agreed,” Gilani, stated.

“In September 2021, we started serving the Medina Government Primary School in Orangi and then in November 2021 the Government Boys Primary School Qamar, Orangi joined the network. Currently, we are able to provide free meals to about 515 children in these underprivileged schools,” according to Gilani.

The FEF volunteers began the meal preparation in a makeshift kitchen set up in a corner of the school administrator’s house next door to the school.

The intent was to build a properly built kitchen at a later day, which would cater to not only this school but would have the capacity to service other schools in the vicinity. The Fortify Education Foundation is now planning to spread the programme to schools operating in poor communities and unprivileged areas across the country. “Today Orangi, tomorrow the entire country,” is our vision,” avowed Naveed Gilani.

 

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