The federal government has flagged off the National Home Grown School Feeding Program in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The FCT Minister of State, Ramatu Aliyu, who hosted the inauguration at Karu Model School, in Abuja, on Friday, said that 120,300 pupils across the six area councils would benefit from the programme.
Mrs Aliyu, who hosted the event alongside the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, explained that the pupils are drawn from the 626 public primary schools in the FCT.
“The program is targeting about 120,300 pupils that will be drawn from 626 public primary schools across the six Area Councils of the FCT.
“Henceforth, pupils will be fed once daily with meals containing the six required nutrients, from primary one to three.
“I want to assure you that all stakeholders – parents, teachers, traditional and community leaders – who are the gatekeepers, and the vendors who will prepare the meals will be carried along in the full implementation of this programme,” Mrs Aliyu said.
Mrs Aliyu, who stated that the program in FCT was for pupils in LEAs, however, called on community leaders and all stakeholders in the FCT to assist the federal government in lifting the burdens off indigent parents who cannot afford balanced diets for their wards.
In her remarks, Ms Farouq said the program is targeting about 120,300 pupils who will be drawn from 626 public primary schools across the six area councils of the FCT.
She added that the programme seeks to provide one free nutritional meal for children in primaries one-three in all public primary schools in Nigeria using food produced within the state.
Ms Farouq, however, urged the federal government to increase the N70 per day payment for cooks for the FCT pupils, noting that the prices of things in the FCT are comparatively higher than in other states.
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She said the move has enhanced school attendance to about 90 per cent. It has also created jobs for parents who would otherwise, have insisted on child-hawking, as they now have a ready market for their items, thereby reducing child labour, she said.
The school feeding program was introduced in 2016 as part of the N500 billion funded Social Investment Program of the Buhari administration. It was projected to provide 1.14 million jobs across the country, including community women, who would be engaged as cooks.
The program, with the support of state governments, aims to support states to collectively feed over 24 million school children, which will make it the largest school feeding program of its kind in Africa. The goals include tackling poverty and improving the health and education of children and other vulnerable groups.
According to a 2019 government document titled “Investing in Our People,” the program is feeding over nine million pupils in 52,604 schools across 30 states and empowering 101,913 cooks with bank accounts.