Gender Minister Promises Better Future For School Feeding
The Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mrs Cynthia Mamle Morrison has assured her administration will do everything possible to transform the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) to impact lives of more vulnerable children in deprived schools.
She says majority of children are in school because of the School Feeding Programme, and therefore owes it a duty as a Minister to ensure that the right things are done to improve, expand and sustain the programme.
“It’s for that poor child that is why I am so passionate about School Feeding. The person that matters to me most is that innocent child that I do not know from that poor home. And I know that I have an account to give to God…so I will make sure that child benefits from the GHC1,” she stated.
Speaking at the AUDA-NEPAD Mission Consultative Partnership Meeting on Home Grown School Feeding in Ghana, Mrs Morrison disclosed that she had currently embarked on a nationwide tour to find out about all the challenges and issues affecting the development and management of the school feeding programme.
According to the sector Minister, her discoveries had shown that caterers under the GSFP are going through a lot of challenges which somewhat limit their abilities to perform better.
She underscored the need for certain pragmatic measures to be taken by the stakeholders of the School Feeding Programme to ensure that the caterers did not incur avoidable loses, which Mrs. Morrison said could compromise on the quality and quantity of meals they serve to the kids.
Other challenges she mentioned included the delay in the payment of caterers, lack of cooking space and pre-school children aged between one and two years who are not enrolled in school also come to enjoy school feeding.
“When you go to a village, you will realise that the parents have gone to the farm and their children are left in the home without food. So some of these children will rush to the schools with their eating bowls and demand for food from school feeding caterers, and they cannot turn them away because they look very hungry. Especially in Northern and Volta regions, the children will come and queue even before the school children leave their classrooms. But the issue here is who pays for the additional cost…..the caterers are those who lose,” she posited.
The Gender Minister who is also a Member of Parliament for Agona West Constituency cautioned the caterers not to cheat the system by trying to provide substandard meals to the children for more profits.
Mrs Morrison reminds them to understand that they exist or are in the business because of the children, and that they must place the interest of the children above any other interest.
The Acting National Coordinator of the Ghana School Feeding Programme, Dr. Mrs Gertrude Quashigah expressed the need for all Ghanaians to embrace and support the school feeding programme.
She indicated that the programme sought to reduce hunger and malnutrition; increase school enrolment, attendance and retention; and to boost domestic food production among others.
According to her, “although GSFP currently provides one hot meal per each school day for pupils in selected public primary schools and kindergartens in deprived areas of the country using locally grown foodstuffs, the nutritional component [food served hygienically and balanced nutrients] is sometimes compromised due to the challenges such as inadequate feeding grant, delay in the release of funds and inadequate skills and knowledge on the part of most caterers”.
Dr. Mrs Quashigah emphasized that with the implementation of home grown Ghana School Feeding Programme, caterers would be obliged to purchase local wholesome food items from farmers in their respective communities.
She said, special attention would also be given to the proper preservation, processing and packaging of the food items to prevent post-harvest losses and would also serve as a means of livelihood for women who would be trained on food production/value addition food chain.
The Acting National Coordinator of the School Feeding Programme said all headmasters would be encouraged to have school gardens in their respective schools to boost food supply to the Ghana home-grown school feeding programme.