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From nutrition champion to culinary students

By Seriti

In many under-resourced communities, a balanced healthy meal is not

guaranteed for many reasons, from affordability to the lack of adequate information on what to do with you having to provide filling and nutritious meals for your family.

One of the cornerstone objectives of the aRe Bapaleng programme is to educate, capacitate, empower, and promote good nutrition in early childhood development. Integrating the SEF Participants as Nutrition Champions was a vital initiative because one of their work activities is producing fresh produce such as spinach, carrots, and peppers, and some of the produce is donated to local daycare centers, child-headed households, the needy, and the elderly.

Through mentorship and training, a group is selected from among the 136 Caregiver Networkers working in the Social Employment Fund to become Nutrition Champions in communities where Seriti implements the programme. Their work includes knowledge sharing on food and nutrition, teaching on food preparation practices that retain nutrients, and demonstrating to parents and caregivers how to promote healthy eating for the benefit of a child’s growth and development.

Rebecca Twala, a supervisor for SEF in Bela-Bela Limpopo at the site of one of Seriti’s local implementing partners, the Economic Urban Farming, saw great potential in some of the participants who had been assisting Rebecca with her own catering business at various events, a side hustle, allowed participants to earn a little more money in addition to their stipend. This was beneficial as many

come from underprivileged homes.

“I saw a lot of passion and potential for culinary arts from them, and all I wanted was to be allowed to showcase it and learn more." said Rebecca who took the liberty of assisting them with the application process for the competition hosted by Sondela Academy.

The competition was an opportunity for applicants to showcase their cooking skills through creative recipes and salivating dishes, and the awardees would get a fully funded scholarship to obtain an Occupational Certificate Chef NQF 07. The qualification has also been designed so that the student will perform 36 months of workplace experience while completing the 36-month training course. Allowing the student to exit their qualification as an experienced chef – ready for the hospitality sector.

Out of five applicants from the programme, three were awarded the scholarship, Thato Montja, NeoRadebe and Elizabeth Mmoseja. They all have in common that their passion for cooking started from simply watching their older family members in the kitchen and their participation in the SEF Programme ignited the desire to pursue this professionally through the trainings they attended and working as Nutrition Champions.

Neo said: “I grew up watching my late grandmother cook her own recipes, which she would write in a notebook in our kitchen.” The young participants appreciate the SEF and aRe Bapaleng’s assistance in empowering them with knowledge on nutrition. As a result, they were found to be more knowledgeable about the significance of serving nutritious foods than the other applicants. This scholarship is a great example of a sustainable exit pathway for young participants to forge their own way in life, equipping them to create sources of

income for themselves and support their families.


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