METHOD: The qualitative approach was used to conduct study. The data was collected by means of focus group interviews and the field notes. The data was tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim. The learners on the School Nutrition Programme were purposely selected based on the knowledge regarding school nutrition.
SETTING: The interviews were conducted at the school, which was the familiar environment.
FINDINGS: The data was analysed according to the Tesch method whereby a series of steps were followed. The categories, subcategories and themes were identified. The categories that form the basis of the discussion were: the effects of nutrition on learners, quality of food, preparation and taste, lack of resources, problems experienced and learners’ preferences.
The effect of nutrition on learners was identified as the first category. The learners had the difficulty in concentrating and learning due to hunger. They needed breakfast because some learners come to school hungry and it became difficult for them to concentrate and learn on an empty stomach. After food consumption they became productive, alert and not tired in class. An intake of starchy food and glucose kept them active and they were able to cope with their studies.
Learners had their preferences, preferring to eat meat rather than soya mince and vegetables to be added. Depending on the weather the juice or tea was added.
Recommendation: It was recommended that learners be involved when planning the menu for School Nutrition Programme, to know learners’ food preferences and to avoid food wastage.
Conclusion: The School Nutrition Programme is important in alleviating hunger and motivating learners to come to school in order to learn.
Key words: Perceptions, School Nutrition Programme, learners.