FG, UN partner to scale up school feeding programme

Sadiya Umar Farouq1

The Federal Government and the United Nations World Food Programme have agreed to scale up the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme as schools reopen in Nigeria.

Both parties said they would take the programme to the next level and that the decision came from a joint assessment conducted in the first quarter of 2021 to identify ways of improving, scaling up and sustaining the NHGSFP.

They disclosed this in a joint statement from the WFP and the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development issued in Abuja on Tuesday by the UN agency.

The statement read in part, “Homegrown school feeding initiatives promote nutrition education and better eating habits and encourage the diversification of production with a special emphasis on local crops.

“WFP is backing the next stage with a significant transfer of ICT equipment. This includes tablets with access to the PLUS Schools Menus – a free tool to help state nutrition officers design nutritious menus for schools.”

Both parties stated that in 2021, the initiative served school meals to over nine million students in 53,000 public primary schools, making it one of the largest school feeding programmes in Africa.

“It has also led to a significant increase in school enrollment across the country,” they stated.

The partners added, “Moreover, the programme has provided a much-needed boost to local economies by buying the products of smallholder farmers and providing jobs to more than 107,000 cooks from low-income families.”

The statement pointed out that schools provided local farmers with a predictable outlet for their products, leading to a stable income, more investments and higher productivity.

It stated that the children enjoyed healthy, diversified food, adding that this made it more likely that they would stay in school, perform better, and improve their adult job prospects.

The Humanitarian Affairs Minister, Sadiya Farouq, was quoted as saying, “The NHGSFP remains an important intervention of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Through it hunger, malnutrition, poverty, education can all be addressed.

“It is an investment that is fully funded by the Federal Government because of its sheer potential as a development driver. We at the humanitarian ministry are here to ensure that this programme is strengthened and sustained so that it can continue to support the needs of the children, families, women and communities it targets.

“The technical support from the World Food Programme is therefore timely, relevant and well appreciated.”

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