An observational cross-sectional investigation of foodservice management and general management practices in schools running the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) in the formal and informal urban areas of Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Meaker, Jill (2008-12)

Thesis (MNutr (Human Nutrition))--Stellenbosch University, 2008.


There is convincing evidence linking school feeding to improved educational outcomes. The Primary School Nutrition Programme (PSNP) was first implemented in 1994 and aimed to improve educational outcomes by alleviating short-term hunger and improving school attendance and punctuality. Responsibility for the programme was transferred from the Department of Health (DoH) to the Department of Education (DoE) in 2004 and the name was changed to the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) at this time. Previous evaluations of the PSNP / NSNP had reported problems associated with foodservice management and general management aspects of the programme. The study was a cross-sectional, observational investigation of foodservice management and general management practices in primary schools running the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. Twenty-three schools were visited to investigate practices at each school relating to compliance with DoE menus and prescribed service time of the meal, the food delivery system and utilities available. The food handling and hygiene training and practices and general management practices linked to the NSNP were investigated. Most of the schools (78%) were using the DoE menus but only half (52%) served the meal at or before 10h00, which is an ongoing problem. Receiving and storage procedures were adequate at most schools. Food quality does not appear to be a problem in the Pietermaritzburg schools. The lack of expiry dates on food packages remains a problem area and should be addressed. Most of the schools had a designated kitchen area but these facilities could be upgraded. Most schools cooked on gas and 35% of schools had no running water in the kitchen. Kitchens should, at least, have hot and cold running water and adequate working space. Most schools reported that they run out of gas during the month. The monthly DoE allocation for gas should be reviewed to ensure schools have enough gas for the whole month. The holding time for cooked food should be kept to a minimum to minimise the risk of food poisoning. Some schools had insufficient plates (26%) and cutlery (35%). Standardised portion sizes were served at 70% of schools and food handlers reported that learners usually finish all the food. Food handlers at 70% of the schools had received training in food safety and hygiene but 26% of these had only received training once. Training was found to be significantly associated with hand washing (p=0.002), clean uniforms (p=0.036) iv and sanitising practices (p=0.035). Training should be provided in short, ongoing sessions. General management aspects of the NSNP remain a problem. Policies and procedures should be drawn up and implemented to provide a minimum standard of operations at schools. Monitoring should be conducted on a regular basis. The NSNP is running reasonably well in Pietermaritzburg. Adhering to prescribed meal times and upgrading kitchen facilities could result in improvements. Food handler training could also be conducted more frequently. General management aspects need to be improved.

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