By Stanley Onyekwere
In order to boost the feeding of no fewer than one hundred and twenty-five thousand school children, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has dialogued with food vendors, aggregators, relevant stakeholders
and the office of the national homegrown school feeding programme of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.
The interactive session held, at the LEA Primary School in Jabi area of Abuja, was against the backdrop growing complaints from some food vendors about certain issues especially money and menu given to them amongst others affecting the programme.
It could be recalled that the programme, which kicked off in 2019, is targeted increasing enrollment and nutritional value of pupils in public schools as well as empowering the down trodden as a strategic survival venture. And in FCT, primary 1-3 pupils of 657 primary schools are involved in the programme.
Speaking at the event, the FCT Focal person/ SA to FCT Minister of state on Social Investment Programme (SIP), Mrs Chinwendu Amba, noted that the programme started in FCT with feeding of 81,000 plus children, but now there are a total of 125,000 plus children, and FCTA have written to the Ministry of the Humanitarian Affairs to capture the new number of children and schools in their next tranche of payment.
She said most of the issues were resolved at the meeting, including the controversy trailing funds disbursement and purported payment of the approved additional N30 to the N70 feeding cost per pupil.
She added that they have platforms where the administration interact and disseminate vital information to the those involved in the programme, so that everybody should know what to do any time, as well as desk officers to handle complaints.
According to her, “the idea for this programme is financial inclusion , and that is what we are doing so far in the FCT, and because of this programme, we have more enrollment of children in our schools now.
“As the food on the menu are sourced locally, we are promoting agriculture and employing more cooks- that’s financial inclusion, making sure that those women in the rural areas are being captured in this programme.
“For me, this programme should be institutionalised for any other administration coming in, so we are asking and pleading for sustainability, because it has gone a long way to promote this administration and to reach out to people especially those in rural communities.
“The programme cuts across every segment of the society, so we are happy for the programme and what we have achieved so far , and we are begging and pleading that there should be sustainability”.
Also speaking, Hajya Zainab Abubakar, National Coordinator, National Home Grown School Feeding Programme, who represented Minister of Humanitarian, Disaster Mgt and Social Development, assured the stakeholders that payment of the approved increased package will soon commence.