School Health and Nutrition (SHN) started in 2013 providing lunch for 200 students in 2 primary schools in Addis Ababa. By 2017 the program has extended to include breakfast and lunch for 500 students in 4 primary schools in Addis Ababa and initially lunch to 100 students in rural Jihur, North Shewa. However, the program at Jihur school has recently been changed to include a monthly food distribution package to all students and their families instead of providing just student lunches.
Students are screened and selected to the program in collaboration with the Sub-City Education Bureau following a set of criteria for vulnerability. The program is managed overall by the SHN Coordinator appointed by IFA and a SHN committee appointed by each school to ensure ownership of the program.
IFA advocates Plant-Based Nutrition for its SSHNP which comprises of fruits, vegetables, tubers, wholegrains and legumes. In preparing the school menus, IFA has followed the nutritional requirements of students according to the average age range set by the World Food Program. The menus are high in protein, carbohydrate, vitamins, iron and micronutrients. The absorption of the latter can be affected if a child has a parasitic infection, commonly caused by worms, which can cause internal bleeding. This can then lead to anemia, malnutrition, fatigue and lethargy which affects school performance. For this reason, bi-annual deworming medication is given to all students in the program.
In addition to a well-balanced nutritional diet, the students receive training on hygiene, the importance of a varied diet and the necessity of hand washing before eating.