The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) has applauded the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) management for taking a giant step to introduce the ‘Nutrition Innovative Training and Practical Cooking Demonstrations for all caterers and cooks under the programme nationwide.
The initiative which is the brainchild of the Acting National Coordinator, Mrs. Gertrude Quashigah is uniquely designed to expose the caterers to the use of locally produced food crops and vegetables in preparing varieties of nutritionally balanced meals for the beneficiary school pupils.
This according to the NEPAD Agency's Nutrition Programme Officer, Ms. Kefilwe Moalosi is in line with the implementation of the Home Grown School Feeding being championed by NEPAD.
Addressing participants at a three day’s Stakeholder Consultative Workshop in Accra, Ghana, to review the Development of Home Grown School Feeding Programme Implementation Guidelines and Monitoring Tool, Ms. Kefilwe Moalosi commended the management team of the Ghana School Feeding Programme for leading the charge to creating a strong link between caterers and the local farmers in the various communities.
The workshop brought together key stakeholders from over 15 African countries to discuss ways of improving and sustaining the Home Grown School Feeding Programme to enhance quality education in Africa. Some of the participating member countries included; Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Mali, Ethiopia, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Niger, Senegal, Rwanda and Madagascar.
She said AUDA-NEPAD’s vision for the Home Grown School Feeding is aimed at fully utilizing the produce of local farmers in Africa; improve nutrition among children; ensure food security and food safety as well as reduce poverty among smallholder farmers.
The NEPAD officials prior to the consultative workshop took part in the ‘Nutrition Innovative Training and Practical Cooking Demonstrations for caterers and head cooks in some districts in the Ashanti Region.
The Ghana School Feeding Programme management held the 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.
The Acting National Coordinator of the GSFP, Mrs. Gertrude Quashigah also a renowned caterer explained that the practical nutrition innovative training was conceived to enable the school feeding caterers take advantage of the Government’s Planting for Food and Jobs policy by teaching them how to prepare different dishes with the local produce which are mostly available and affordable.
She said under the new initiative, GSFP caterers are restrained from patronizing foreign rice, chicken, spices and other supplements.
Mrs. Quashigah said, her administration had fully embraced the Home Grown School Feeding concept because of the huge impact it brings to the local economy, apart from creating jobs for women, farmers, transport operators and enhancing food security.
She indicated that the Ghana School Feeding Programme currently employs over 9,000 certified caterers and more than 25,000 cooks nationwide.
The Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mrs. Cynthia Mamle Morrison on behalf of the Government appreciated AUDA-NEPAD for choosing Ghana as the host for the all important workshop.
She shared some of Ghana's experiences in the implementation of the Ghana School Feeding Programme, and urged the participants to openly share experiences from their respective countries and suggest ways of addressing some of the challenges.