File photo: Pupils eating
Flags off nationwide distribution of feeding utensils in Abuja
By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA-THE federal government, Tuesday, said it was feeding nearly ten million pupils in public schools across the country.
The government equally revealed that it engaged over 100,000 cooks so far in its ongoing National Home Grown School Feeding Programme.
Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, disclosed these at the flagging off of the nationwide distribution of feeding utensils in Abuja.
On the occasion, the minister handed over feeding utensils to the Federal Capital Territory, FCT authorities for the feeding of school children in public schools in the FCT.
She said: “Today, we are here to fulfill Mr. President’s gesture on handing over feeding utensils to FCT Authorities for use by school pupils on the NHGSFP.
“The purpose of this intervention is to ensure that the target pupils have the best experience of integrity, hygiene, and safety during their consumption of the free meals that are provided by the FG.
“In the year 2020, when the School Feeding Program kicked off in FCT, we delivered more than 70,000 sets of stainless steel covered bowls and spoons for the pupils, and over 1,500 aprons to the cooks. I am sure they were all put to good use.
“By now all Nigerians are aware that the NHGSFP is one of the four key interventions of the Federal Government under the National Investment Programme (NSIP).
“The School Feeding Programme seeks to increase enrollment of children into schools, boost their nutrition and encourage entrepreneurship, enhance agricultural production and generate millions of rural jobs in the country.
“In line with this, I am happy to report that we have so far, recorded feeding nearly 10 million pupils, and engaged over 100,000 cooks. Also, massive employment opportunities are being created within the school feeding ecosystem in sectors of transportation, agriculture, energy supply, and food materials packaging.”
The minister explained that: “This programme is designed to reduce poverty in all its forms and is a collaboration between the FG and SG, where the FG is responsible for funding, making policy and guidelines, and conduct of close monitoring, while the states/FCT carries out the day-to-day implementation including procurement of food items, selection of cooks and vendors who would prepare, cook and serve the meals to the pupils.”
“The Federal Government is highly committed to this crucial intervention, which is why I am pleased to note that the school feeding program has resumed across the Nation following a short break brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
She spoke further: “We may recall that in March 2020, the whole world was grounded to a halt, schools were shut down, businesses were closed down due to the pandemic.
“The FG under the directives of President Muhammdu Buhari adopted its social protection mechanisms to respond to the social and economic challenges brought on the people by the pandemic.
“Part of these was the deployment of take-home rations initiative to Lagos, FCT and Ogun states, where a total of 124,000 households of pupils on the program were targeted to receive a food basket comprising of uncooked materials including rice, beans, palm oil, eggs, etc. This was specifically selected for the nutritional benefits of the children. We recorded tremendous success in this intervention that brought succor to the lives of many Nigerians who are at the bottom of the pyramid.
“I am convinced that the school feeding program is quite important to the administration of President Muhammdu Buhari, and is part of the central activity to the realization of the vision of His Excellency to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
“We will therefore continue to roll our policies and strategies that will be able to strengthen, sustain and scale up the program as well as all the other social investment programs.”