In another rollout of one of the Social Investment Programmes of the Buhari administration, the National Homegrown School Feeding scheme has entered implementation stage with the feeding of primary school pupils in Anambra State Thursday.
Last month, the N-Power scheme kicked off with the selection of the first batch of 200,000 unemployed graduates, many of whom are now being deployed in the 36 states/FCT in the first batch of the planned half a million graduates to be engaged in the N-Power Volunteer Corps, NPVC.
The government says no one should have to pay any fees to benefit in the N-Power or the Homegrown School Feeding programmes, and any such imposition or request for fees is uncalled for and illegal.
Reports of such acts of extortion in some states where beneficiaries are being asked to pay a “fee for registration” have reached the Presidency, and firm instructions have been given that such acts should stop, Laolu Akande, spokesperson to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, said in a statement Thursday.
Speaking from Awka, Anambra State capital earlier today, the Special Assistant on Homegrown School Feeding Programme in the Office of the Vice President, Dotun Adebayo, said primary school pupils in Anambra were excited as the feeding started in their schools.
Mr. Adebayo, who led a team of federal and state officials to some of the schools on day one of the Homegrown School Feeding Programme implementation, said they witnessed the feeding in three schools in Awka: Community Primary School, Awka South, Central School Ameobi, and Central School in Nibo.
“The pupils were excited and enjoyed the meals,” he stated, adding that the cooks in those three schools, among the total 774 already recruited and trained for the feeding programme, served ‘Okpa’ a.k.a Moin-moin garnished with vegetables to the delight of the pupils who took the meals during their break time about noonday.
All together in Anambra State, an estimated 76, 690 pupils in 1050 schools would be served every day of school. The feeding programme caters to pupils from primary 1-3.
Having met the stated requirements for Federal Government funding for the Homegrown School Feeding, a sum of N53, 687, 900 had been released directly to cooks for the kick-off of the school feeding programme in Anambra, to last till the end of the current school term.
All the cooks were recruited from communities around the primary schools for the program, verified and trained to provide the catering service in the 21 LGAs in the State.
Generally, the Homegrown School Feeding programme, which is one of the Social Investment plans of the Buhari presidency, is driven through community participation where residents in the community are engaged as cooks to provide feeding services. Also the programme leverages on the agricultural produce available within the communities.
The Homegrown School Feeding programme of the Buhari administration will not only boost school enrollment and improve the nutritional status of the pupils, it would also stimulate local farming, while equally creating jobs including the 774 cooks now in gainful employment in Anambra State.
While the 2016 Budget of Change made provision for funding of the feeding programme in 18 states, a total of 17 States have concluded the designing of the School feeding models through state-level multi-sectorial capacity building workshops, based on FG’s stipulated requirements. Those states will proceed in the planning and would soon get to the implementation stage.
The 17 states are Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Enugu, Sokoto, Kaduna, Borno, Zamfara, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Delta, Abia and Bauchi. Estimated figures from 15 of these states put the numbers of pupils to be feed at over 3.4 million.
Also the Federal Government has successfully conducted food safety and hygiene training for over 25,000 cooks in 9 states (out of the 17).
According to the 2016 budget, provision was made for the feeding programme in 18 states of the federation.
It is the plan of the Buhari administration to implement the feeding programme all across the country, where states meet the federal requirements for such engagement. Under the school feeding programme, there are no pre-selections, but states/FCT have to meet the stipulated requirements.
While the 2016 Budget planned for 18 states, all 36 states and FCT are eligible to participate as budgetary provisions even in the new year are being considered.