The National Homegrown School Feeding Programme has recommenced in Kaduna State, with 730,000 pupils benefiting.
The programmer’s Focal Person in the state, Saude Atoyebi made this known while speaking at the event marking the commencement of the programme at Research Model Primary School Kawo, Kaduna, on Wednesday.
Atoyebi disclosed that over 7,000 cooks were employed to provide meals for the pupils in over 3,400 schools across the state.
The National Homegrown School Feeding Programme is one of the flagship Social Investment Programmes of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, designed to improve enrolment in primary schools and the nutritional status of pupils.
It is also meant to provide employment to women engaged as cooks and enhance the potentials of small-holder farmers within communities, thereby stimulating local economic growth.
She said Kaduna state currently has over 730,000 pupils in classes 1 – 3 of public primary schools benefitting from the programme.
“We are delighted that our pupils are not only able to resume their academic activities, but are also able to benefit from this social safety-net which has been accorded them by the Federal Government.”
Atoyebi said that the state government had evolved mechanisms to strengthen the programme.
“Through the efforts of the School Feeding Multi-Sectoral Team, the state government used the period of school closures to form accountability groups of mothers in several schools, which is called the Kaduna Mothers for Accountability (KM4A) Group.
“This group is a voluntary association of self-motivated mothers of pupils in the same schools who will work together to hold the cooks to account and ensure that the quality and standards of the school feeding programme are maintained.”
She added that the women had been trained with support from the McArthur Foundation through ActionAid Nigeria and the other cohorts working in the state, to ensure proper monitoring.
She disclosed that the government is collaborating with the Gates Foundation to deepen financial inclusion among the cooks and explore creative ways to improve their financial literacy and business acumen.
“We are also currently conducting medical screening for the cooks to ensure that they are all fit to provide this sensitive service of feeding our children,” she added.
She further said that the state government, in collaboration with Partnership for Child Development (PCD), had successfully conducted a menu standardization and handy measures training, aimed at ensuring that meals prepared met the required reference nutrient intake for pupils.
“It is our hope that with the training which has been cascaded down to all cooks in the state, the meals will taste the same and more importantly contain the nutrients required for our children to grow and be healthy.
“The state government has also established a call centre where those who wish to report issues on the programme can do so while grievances can be addressed promptly by professionals who will ensure that issues are resolved timeously.”
Atoyebi appreciated the federal government for shouldering the responsibility of feeding children in the state and it’s commitment to strengthening and guaranteeing that the programme succeeds.
She also expressed appreciation to all stakeholders, including donor partners, for making the programme a reality. (NAN)