The homegrown school feeding programme of the Federal Government, which started in 2016 in some states, is aimed at addressing poverty, improving the health and education of children and enhancing the social, mental and physical wellbeing of the kids, who are offered daily meals during school hours. With this initiative, the federal government funds the feeding of pupils from primaries one to three, while state governments take care of those in primaries four to six. Staggering amounts of money running into billions of naira have been invested in the programme since its commencement. Through the programme, the poorest children who suffer most from hunger are able to attend school regularly and promptly. But there are indications that the initiative, which took off on a sound footing, with impressive results, has succumbed to the current galloping inflation. Daily Trust Saturday takes a look at how the programme is currently faring in some states as schools resume.
Our correspondent gathered that the programme runs successfully in Kano but being hampered by corrupt practices among officials in some places. Findings show that more than 1.2 million pupils in 523 primary schools get daily meals. The federal government feeds 9.5 million primaries 1 to 3 pupils across the country daily. Our correspondent gathered that the state has the largest share of the programme, even as school children get nutritious meals and snacks throughout the five days of school hours. Over 10,000 cooks were recruited to supply food to schools under the programme.
It was also gathered that the programme has not only enhanced students’ academic performance, as well as health, it has also increased school enrollment and boosted local food production and the state’s economy.
Many parents in the state expressed gratitude that government takes care of their children’s food and nutritional needs by providing them quality meals, including meat.
Malam Muhammadu Na’annabi told Daily Trust Saturday that their children were receiving nutritional food they could not get from their parents.
“Due to the current harsh economic condition, only a few parents can afford to feed their children three square meals a day. Even if we can afford it, how many of us can provide nutritious food for our children? ” He asked rhetorically.
Daily Trust Saturday gathered that while the federal government is expending huge resources on the programme, huge amounts are still being siphoned through various corrupt practices by officials involved in the implementation of the programme.
Some of the cooks complained that they were not allowed to go to the market to buy foodstuffs because officials of the programme force them to buy from them.
“Although we receive the money directly through our bank accounts to procure rice, vegetables and meat or fish, members of the Community Reorientation Committee force us to purchase food items from them on higher costs, compared to markets prices,” a cook who spoke on the condition of anonymity said.