From Okwe Obi, Abuja
The federal government has announced that no few that 10 million pupils have benefited from the national home-grown feeding scheme.
The government, through the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday during the flag off of the distribution of utensils under the schemel in the North Central zone
Umar Farouq presented 15,750 utensils including stainless plates and cutlery sets as well as 1,000 aprons to the FCT which is a balance of the 73,060 utensils and 1555 aprons earlier presented in 2020.
In a statement by her Special Adviser on Media, Nneka Ikem Anibeze, the minister said: ‘The School feeding initiative has been enormous. I am happy to report that we have so far, recorded feeding nearly 10 million pupils, and engaged over One Hundred Thousand Cooks.
‘Also massive employment opportunities are being created within the school feeding ecosystem in sectors of transportation, agriculture, energy supply and food materials packaging.’
The School Feeding Programme, being one of the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIPs) under the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration, is in fulfilment of ensuring that school pupils have the best experience of integrity, hygiene and safety during consumption of the free meals provided by the federal government.
It is targeted at increasing enrollment of children in schools, boost their nutrition and encourage entrepreneurship, enhance agricultural production and generate millions of rural jobs in the country is a collaboration between the federal and state governments.
Umar Farouq said that government is totally committed to the initiative which has prompted a nationwide resumption after the COVID-19 pandemic break.
She explained that the Federal government is responsible for funding, policy and guidelines formulations as well as conduct of close monitoring, while the states carry out the day-to-day implementation including procurement of food items, selection of cooks and vendors who would prepare, cook and serve the meals to the pupils.
According to her, the government under the directives of President Buhari adopted the social protection mechanisms to tackle the social and economic challenges occassioned by the pandemic.
‘Part of these was the deployment of take-home rations initiative to Lagos, FCT and Ogun states, where over 127,000 households of pupils on the program were targeted to receive a food basket comprising of uncooked materials including rice, beans, palm oil, eggs, etc.
‘This was specifically selected for the nutritional benefits of the children. We recorded tremendous success in this intervention that brought succor to the lives of many Nigerians who are at the bottom of the pyramid,’ she said.
The minister declared that the school feeding program ‘is an integral part of President Buhari’s administration policy to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.’
As at the last count, 9,196,823 pulpils had been captured nationwide across 54,619 schools with 100,000 farmers and 103,028 cooks actively employed.
Farouq promised that the ministry will continue to roll our policies and strategies capable of strengthening, sustaining and scaling up the program as well as all the other social investment programs under its stable.
The Focal Person in the FCT, Chinwendu Eteyen Amba, thanked the federal government for the school feeding program initiative.
‘We thank the Minister and the Federal government for what you’re doing in the FCT using the Social Investment Programmes. We hope that you will continue to enjoy the robust relationship you have with the FCT,’ Amba said.
The minister later inspected the school feeding session in the LEA Primary School to ascertain the quantity and quality of the food given to the children.