Madam Sarah Adwoa Safo, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, has promised to solve all issues relating to the Ghana National School Feeding Programme (GNSFP) for its smooth operation.
“Since I came into office, the School Feeding Programme has been at the heart of my agenda. I can assure you that we are working assiduously to ensure that caterers are paid on time and that we resolve all issues which affect the smooth running of the programme,” she said.
The Minister made the remarks when the leadership of the Ghana National School Feeding Caterers Association called on her at the Ministry in Accra, to present a petition on some alleged unfair treatment being meted out to them.
She assured them of the Ministry’s commitment to ensure the smooth running of the Programme as one of government’s flagship programmes designed to reduce poverty and tackle food insecurity issues, especially in the poorest areas of the country.
Madam Safo, said the Programme was aimed at providing hot nutritious meals to children in public kindergartens and primary schools and commended the caterers for their patience and sacrifices in partnering government in the implementation of the programme successfully.
The Minister called for calm among caterers and urged the Association to work hand in hand with the Ministry as they tried to improve the programme and its service delivery to pupils across the country.
She said: “I will urge you to stay calm and continue to cook the nutritious meals you have been providing for our school children. The programme has increased the enrolment of pupils in our public schools so I’m pleading with you, for us to work together to get the School Feeding Programme to the desirable state it ought to be.”
Hajia Asana Salifu, President of the Association, presenting the petition on behalf of members, stated that the delay in payment, inadequate feeding cost per child, currently at 0.97 pesewas, operational structure and alleged corruption at the School Feeding Secretariat were issues members were unhappy with.
In the Petition, the members suggested to the Ministry to negotiate with the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) to arrange pre-financing arrangements for caterers where deductions could be made when government released funds for their payment.
The Ghana National School Feeding Programme whose implementation started in 2005, is an initiative of the comprehensive Agricultural Development Programme, Pillar 3, to enhance food security and reduce hunger in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on hunger, poverty and malnutrition.
Currently, over 3,000,000 pupils in about 10,000 schools in all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) are benefiting from the School Feeding Programme which significantly reduced the incidence of malnutrition, which is the cause of high vulnerability of children to disease and intellectual malfunction.