PfP Stories


Some tips on setting up a feeding scheme during lockdown

Posted by Breggie Hoffman on 14 January 2021 3:25 PM SAST
Breggie Hoffman photo

Written by Magali von Blottnitz 6 April 2020

We have been asked for advice on how to set up a feeding scheme during lockdown. This blog post covers really just a few common-sense rules - there is no absolute recipe for feeding schemes as it depends on context. Feel free to share your comments and suggestions and we can make sure that we edit this post to include your experiences!

This blog post covers: 

* how to obtain permits for the staff and volunteers 

* how to ensure that the staff and volunteers protect themselves against the risks of infection 

* how to enforce physical distancing between the learners 

* What more you can do to feed the minds as well as the bodies

As the lockdown is extended, it becomes increasingly important that vulnerable learners have access to food to sustain themselves. We honour the principals, educators and parents who have stepped up to organise a scheme to feed the most destitute children despite the circumstances!  

* How to obtain permits for the staff and volunteers

In order to be able to leave their homes and fulfil their role within the ambit of the law, it is essential that all people involved in the feeding scheme be given permits. Read the guidelines to understand what you need. The form to ask for an essential services permit can be downloaded here - you will need to have it stamped and signed by an authorised entity. Please contact if you should need Symphonia's support with getting the permits signed. 

It may be a good idea to involve the local councillors and police to make sure that the relevant authorities are aware and supportive of your initiative . 

* How to ensure that the staff and volunteers protect themselves against risks of infection 

It is of paramount importance that the staff and volunteers handing out the food protect themselves. They are de facto frontline workers. They are likely to have prolonged exposure to a large number of children. The last thing we want is for the feeding scheme to become a place where people get infected.

* Masks are difficult to get by so you may look at home-made masks instead (for a quick mask, see basic instructions on how to create a mask from an old T-shirt here; for download a better and more comfortable mask design that can be produced without sewing). Please also note the CDC's recommendations on the wearing of and removal of home-made masks.

* There are different positions around the use of disposable gloves versus working without gloves. While gloves protect the person wearing them, there is a possibility that they can contribute to spreading the virus to the surfaces touched by the gloves. It may be safer for all people involved to sanitise hands regularly while dishing out the food (see recipe for a home-made sanitiser). If water is available, consider giving the volunteers breaks to wash their hands thoroughly at regular intervals - and use the sanitiser as a quick solution in-between.

* Please remind your staff and volunteers to refrain from touching their face while they are working, and to have a shower and/or wash themselves and their clothes thoroughly as soon as they get back home. 


* Cooked meal to take-away, or home supplies?

To comply with the lockdown rules, you will probably need to avoid that the learners eat their meal at the school. There are therefore two possibilities:

- cook a meal that gets distributed to the children in take-away containers (If you are going to do it on a regular basis you may want to ask them to bring recycled containers from home if at all possible, or to wash and reuse the container that you will provide)

- distribute uncooked supplies that the families can cook in their own home.


* How to enforce physical distancing between the learners 

* Before the children arrive, draw chalk squares of 1,5m on the ground and ask each child to stay within that square while waiting. (see pic)

* Alternatively chairs can be used as in the other picture.

(apologies for the poor photo quality)

* What more you can do to feed the minds as well as the bodies

Obviously, the priority is for children’s most urgent needs to be met. Giving children some activities to do during lockdown is worthwhile, not only to keep them engaged in some kind of “academic” activity but also to cater for their mental health and emotional well-being during the lockdown.

* If you have any access to activity sheets, colouring-in pages, etc., why not distribute them to the children together with the meals? See here for the “COVID-19 Time capsule activity pack”.

* We are currently trying to set up a collaboration with the Little Issue to distribute their magazines to needy children during lockdown. Please contact us if you need to know more.

Please note that this story might not be aligned with the latest regulatory requirements around feeding schemes, as it was written during Lockdown Level1. School teams are encouraged to have their feeding scheme plans validated by the local police or councillor. 

Groups that may interest you
PfP Basic Information on Public Education
PfP Project Resources for Schools

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