Caterers and head cooks of the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) in the Volta and Oti Regions are undergoing intensive nutrition innovative training and practical cooking demonstrations with the aim of improving the quality standards of meal served to the beneficiary school children.
The 1,321 caterers are being trained on how to use the available local foodstuffs to prepare varieties of nutritionally balanced meals for the pupils to promote their health, growth and academic standards.
With funding from the World Food Programme (WFP), the caterers will receive new knowledge on how to use soy powder, texturized soy protein (TSP) and other crops and vegetables produced locally by the local farmers to prepare new dishes.
They will also learn how to use the School Feeding Meal Planner to ensure the pupils are not underserved or overserved with meals.
The Ghana School Feeding Programme management has already held similar trainings for caterers, head cooks, district nutrition officers and SHEP officers in the Northern, Savannah, North East, Upper East, Upper West, Eastern, Central, Bono, Ahafo, Bono East and Greater Accra regions with support from WFP, Partnership for Child Development (PCD) and AUDA-NEPAD.
Addressing the caterers and the head cooks, the Acting National Coordinator of the Ghana School Feeding Programme, Mrs. Gertrude Quashigah said the training programme was crucial to ensure the caterers are able to plan their own district menus using the meal planner and to learn the new ways of cooking up to the required standards.
“If you are a good caterer, you cannot just get up and cook. You need to measure and measure well to know the quantity to give to what number of children, so that you don’t run at a loss or underserve the children”.
Mrs. Quashigah vehemently warned the caterers not to joke with the school feeding job, but rather exhibit more professionalism, passion and commitment for the benefit of the pupils and the sustainability of the programme.
She also encouraged them to maintain good hygiene practices in and around their cooking spaces to prevent diseases. “You should also make sure you wash your hands properly before touching foods or cooking any meal; cover your hairs, be free from ear rings, necklets and other jewelries during cooking hours”.
The Deputy Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mrs. Freda Prempeh commended the caterers for availing themselves for the training which she indicated would propel them for excellence.
Accompanied by the Chief Director of the Ministry, Dr. Hafisatu Zakariah, Mrs. Freda Prempeh also acknowledged the strong support her Ministry and Ghana School Feeding Programme are enjoying from WFP, PCD and YEDENT Agro Processing Company Limited.
The Deputy Gender Minister described the school feeding programme as one of the most important national programmes which has created jobs for thousands of Ghanaians especially women across the 16 regions of Ghana.
The Operations Director of the GSFP, Mrs. Doris Gaba disclosed that the school feeding secretariat and the Ministry of Gender led by Mrs. Cynthia Mamle Morrison had resolved to effectively monitor all caterers in every district to ensure good performances.
She said the Minister and the National Coordinator of GSFP together with the monitoring team would undertake unannounced visits to the schools to check on how the caterers are doing in terms of cooking.
Special Certificate of Participation would be issued to all the caterers who participated in the training.