By Peter Okutu, Abakaliki

Statistics from the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, yesterday revealed that the Federal Government through its National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme had fed 64,301 pupils, donated 20,000 utensils, engaged 762 cooks in 561 benefiting schools across Ebonyi State.

The statistical index was derived between 2019, when the State keyed into the Programme and 2022, Vanguard reliably gathered.

Speaking during the handover of feeding Utensils for beneficiaries of the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme at Aziyiokwu Primary School, Abakaliki, the Minister of Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq stated that the programme had over time addressed issues revolving around hunger, malnutrition and poverty, affecting families and the nation at large.

Represented by her Special Assistant on Administration, Ngene Kingsley Bash, the Minister added that over 9 million pupils on the programme were being fed by over 100,000 Cooks as employment was being created within the school feeding ecosystem in sectors of transportation and manufacturing.

She appealed to the benefiting schools to put the utensils to use, so that the pupils would benefit more.

According to her: “On behalf of the Federal Government, I bring you warm greetings and best wishes of the HM, FMHADMSD, We are here today to hand over feeding utensils to the Ebonyi State National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme.

“As we may all know, the NHGSFP is one of the 4 key interventions of the Federal Government under the National Social Investment Programme which seeks to boost school enrollment, nutrition and local economic activities in thousands of communities across the Nation.

“This programme at its core, is designed to address poverty in all its forms and is a collaboration between the FG and SG, where the FG is responsible for the release of funds, guidelines policies, and monitoring, while the State carries out the day-to-day implementation including procurement of food items, selection of cooks and vendors who prepare, cook and serve the meals to the pupils.

“Today, we are pleased to inform you that we have commenced deployment of interventions within the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme that will help resolve the identified gaps including a nationwide enumeration exercise with the objective of verifying the existing data, upgrading the quality of data, and updating our records to accommodate the scaling up of the programme with an additional 5 million beneficiaries as directed by Mr. President.

“Additionally, an operational review is underway, fully supported by experts and technical partners to ensure that this programme succeeds in its objectives and capitalizes on gains and benefits such as women empowerment, supporting the education of the girl child, creating employment, and improving inter-governmental cooperation and collaboration.

“Thus, this intervention today, is only one out of the several strategic plans of our Ministry that seeks to ensure that the target pupils have the best experience of hygiene and safety during their consumption of those free meals.

“Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, on our own part, I wish to assure you all that the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development will continue to improve quality service delivery on all its social interventions and our leadership role on the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme. Thank You and God Bless.”

Receiving the items, the Ebonyi State Commissioner for Human Capital Development and Monitoring, Mrs. Ann Aligwe who explained that the programme had led to reduction in the number of school dropouts across the State, thanked the Federal Government for the initiative and the utensils donated to the benefiting schools in the State.

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