South Africa is facing a public health crisis as obesity rates rise even as hunger and malnutrition persist. INMED South Africa’s Health in Action programme is tackling this complex problem via a school-based programme that teaches children about the importance of nutrition, physical activity and healthy lifestyles through engaging hands-on, skills-based activities. With the support of the Mondelēz International Foundation, Health in Action is reaching more than 100,000 primary school children in 116 schools in 13 at-risk communities in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.
A key component to Health in Action are school gardens, which are used as teaching tools as well as sources of fresh produce for school meals—and the community, in many cases. INMED South Africa and its partners supply the materials for the gardens as well as training for school food handlers, teachers, administrators and community members.
INMED has pioneered the use of school- and community-based aquaponics in South Africa to improve the nutrition, health and food security in disadvantaged communities for 10 years.
Through our Health in Action progamme, we have established two community Aquaponics Centres to provide a reliable supply of fresh food to schools and families in low-resource neighbourhoods. Our Aquaponics Centre in Soweto is located next to the Elias Motswaledi health clinic, where we share our harvests with individuals in need and provide regular workshops on nutrition, low-fat cooking and healthy lifestyles.
In Port Elizabeth, our Aquaponics Centre is located at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University-Missionvale Campus. The system’s harvests are supplementing the feeding schemes of the university and disadvantaged schools in the surrounding communities. Both Aquaponics Centres also serve as research and training tools for teachers, students and the public.
In partnership with Air Products South Africa, INMED South Africa has installed three aquaponics systems at schools in Gauteng. The latest installation is at Laerskool Kempton Park, a full-service primary school in Johannesburg that also accommodates the needs of children with disabilities. Teachers report that the system has been a highly effective tool for teaching children who do not integrate well in traditional classroom environments. It also provides fresh produce and fish for the school’s meals, with enough to share with disadvantaged families whose children attend the school. The two other schools with INMED aquaponics systems are selling excess produce for income.
INMED dieticians perform regular cooking demonstrations and health education segments on local television and at free community workshops, in addition to training school food preparers in collaboration with the Departments of Health and Education. Click here to view INMED South Africa on TV.