Development of an energy-dense biscuit suitable for primary school learners for the South African National School Nutrition Programme
African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development
South Africa has a well established National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP). Despite rescheduling the mealtime to two hours after the start of the school day to accommodate learners who come to school on an empty stomach, a gap still exists as many children start their learning day with low energy and concentration levels. A cost-effective, energy-dense snack served at the start of the school day can be a solution to sustain learners until the main meal is served. Cross-sectional surveys
... used to determine the snack preferences of children and the product development process was used to develop a suitable snack. An energy-dense peanut butter biscuit was developed based on those surveys as well as a scoping review of previous snack studies. The energy-dense developed product provided 1388kJ (61.0%) of energy from fat, 688kJ (30.2%) of energy from carbohydrates and 201kJ (8.8%) of energy from protein per 100g. The biscuit conformed to microbial testing standards. Shelf-life analysis projected a shelf-life of five weeks fresh and five months in food grade packaging. Sensory results showed that there was no significant difference in sensory scores across gender (p=0.691) and age (p=0.706). More of the learners (n=56, 69.1%) found the biscuit to be 'Super good' than the other ratings (p<.0005). When compared with similar biscuit products currently on the market, it was found that the developed biscuit was the most reasonably priced. The developed biscuit has the potential to serve as a solution to hidden hunger for children that come to school on an empty stomach. This versatile snack solution has potential for continuity of use even during periods of national crisis as with COVID-19, when learners' nutritional needs may be most vulnerable.