Pupils in Osun State would be fed with cocoyam-based nutrition in the state government’s schools feeding programme tagged “O Meal’’, Gov. Rauf Aregbesola has announced.

He made the disclosure in Osogbo on Friday while distributing instructional materials to pupils, saying research had confirmed the nutritional value of cocoyam.

The governor said the cocoyam-based feeding formula would make the pupils strong and sound, as it is rich in minerals and vitamins, and is low in starch.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the programme was inaugurated on April 30 with the employment of 3,000 women as food vendors.

The governor said findings had revealed that cocoyam remains an indispensable but yet neglected food crop, especially for predominantly malnourished households in the country.

“It is not just to provide the usual meal, meant to fill the bellies of our school children, but the ‘O Meal’ is rich in high protein,” he said.

Aregbesola said that the menu includes a very rich diet in chicken, beef, fish, eggs, and fruits to be served with other regular staple foods.

“Interestingly, and contrary to popular but uninformed belief, we found out through research that cocoyam is one of the most nutritious tubers for human consumption.

“Our policy therefore is based on sound advice by nutritionists that such food enhances the physical growth and mental development of kids in their formative years,” he said.

Aregbesola said the programme has also opened a window of opportunity for economic empowerment as no fewer than 3,000 women have been appointed food vendors.

He said the women had been adequately equipped with modern cooking utensils and provided with two pairs of chef uniforms each to enhance their service delivery.

The governor said more than N1.5 billion would be required to feed the pupils per annum, even as the equipment and uniforms had gulped N152million.(NAN)

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