Food for Thought

children lining up for daily porridge
Porridge might not be considered the most exciting foodstuff, unless, of course, you happen to be a pupil at Uphill Junior School where a mug of porridge really, really brightens up your day. Since the Uphill Porridge Club was launched in 2022, we have had great reports of how successful it has been, and how appreciative the kids and their parents are for daily food in school.

Our school parents are immensely grateful for any help feeding their youngsters, particularly right now as food poverty and cost of living rises are hitting our rural community very, very hard.

Many children only get an evening meal at home and although they are encouraged to bring a packed lunch for the middle of the school day, this often doesn’t happen. Some of them bring left-overs from the previous night’s meal but many times it has not been stored properly and can make them ill. Others simply don’t have enough food to spare, and no extra money for their child to buy any food either.

Our bursar reports that one of the main factors for parents deciding to send their child to Uphill Junior School is because they will get daily porridge.

uphill porridge club

Making the posho (maize porridge) is a lengthy process. The school has a dedicated posho cook who starts at 8am putting huge pans of water on open fires to boil before the maize flour is added. The posho has to be constantly stirred as it cooks, and when it’s done, each full pan takes two people to move it! To feed the the whole school takes two pans each time.

The Kindergarten kids get their porridge served first. For a good while, the kindergarten teachers stir the porridge in big bowls to cool it down. They then serve it up in big mugs. Each child is encouraged to wash their cup after they finish.

Cooling the porridge before serving

The older children will never miss lining up to get their morning porridge at break time, and you see a long orderly queue formed up at the kitchen door. The cooks ladle out the porridge from big bowls into cups, then the kids find a suitable place to eat – alongside their friends, sitting in groups around the school.

children lining up for daily porridge

enjoying daily porridge in school

The porridge is unsweetened and tastes fairly bland so some of the older children bring in sugar to share and to add to their cups. That’s not ideal for their teeth but it does give a necessary energy boost when they are unlikely to get much more food before their evening meal at home.

The teachers all report that as it gets close to break time their classes start looking out of the windows toward the kitchen to see whether the porridge is ready. After break the kids’ attentiveness and participation in class is so much better.

What better recommendation do you need to see that porridge isn’t so boring, after all?

As with food supplies all round the world, the costs of providing daily porridge have increased hugely since we started, but for £15 per child per school year it is still making a massive difference to these young Ugandans.

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