The modified school feeding programme for public primary school children, under the auspices of the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme, NHGSFP, was officially flagged off in Maryland, Ikeja on Thursday, May 21.
The modified school feeding programme was flagged off by the Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouk, ably assisted by the Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo; as well as the Executive Chairman Lagos State Universal Basic Education, LASUBEB, Hon. Wahab Alawiye-King.
Reprsented by the Director, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs, Mrs Margaret Ukegbu, the Minister of Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Farouk, in her keynote address stated that the modified school feeding programme was sequel to the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs should liaise with state governments to develop strategy on the continuation of the school feeding programme.
Hajia Farouk added that the special home grown feeding intervention will impact 337,589 beneficiaries, made up of parents, guardians and care givers of primary school children in participating schools.
The minister said, “The identified and selected household will each receive 5kg bag of rice, 5kg bag of beans, vegetable and palm oil, salt, tomato paste and 15 pieces of eggs.
“These rations have been reviewed by nutrition expert to ascertain the nutritional value and benefits to the children.”
While noting that 17 countries around the world are currently employing the take home ration options, she reiterated that it is a globally acceptable means of supporting children to continue to have access to nutrition, despite the disruption to the traditional channels of school feeding.
Commending the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, for his uncommon commitment and engagement for making the programme a success, Hajiya Farouk also thanked the chairman of LASUBEB Hon. Alawiye-King for his unflinching support.
She explained that Lagos State was chosen as one of the pilot states for the commencement of the programme due to the fact the state has been one of the states in the frontline in the battle to contain and flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In her address, the Lagos State Honourable Commissioner of Education, Mrs. Folashade Adefisayo, stated that the modified school feeding programe is a continuation of the existing home grown feeding program of the state government, in conjunction with the Federal Government, whereby 100,000 pupils in public primary school were fed daily.
Reiterating the importance of food in the development of a child, Mrs Adefisayo noted that the modified school feeding programme will go a long way in achieving that.
The commissioner said, “When a child is growing, its quite imperative that the child should have good quality balanced diet in order to feed the brain and ensure that the brain grows appropriately; because an hungry child cannot learn properly. So, looking at the take home ration, its truly a balance diet.”
LASUBEB Executive Chairman, Hon. Alawiye-King, in his address. stated that the commencement of the distribution of the take home rations is to ensure that the hardship caused by COVID-19 is minimized, noting that a lot of work has gone into ensuring that the modified home feeding programme was carried out in a transparent and seamless manner.
Alawiye-King said, ‘’In a few days, all the targeted households would have received their vouchers, which will enable them collect their food rations. At the end of the exercise, 37,589 households of pupils in primary schools, from primary 1 to 3 would have been fed.”
While thanking the Federal Government for the laudable initiative, Hon. Alawiye-King also expressed his gratitude to the Lagos State governor, Sanwo-Olu, for supporting the programme and ensuring that it is brought to fruition.
He also solicited for the cooperation and understanding of all stakeholders in ensuring that the food items get to the intended beneficiaries.
Giving an overview of the programme, the Special Assistant to the President on National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme NHGSFP, Mrs Titilola Adeyemi-Doro, said that the social shocks of recent global crises, especially the COVID-19 pandemic, have led to enhanced and modified social protection mechanisms, including school feeding programs in low-income countries. as they can serve as a safety net for food-insecure households.
She noted that the modified NHGSFP in response to COVID-19 pandemic is built on existing pillars of normal NHGSFP, where the ministry works in synergy with the State Universal Basic Education Board, SUBEB, and the communities on both planning and implementation.
Saying that this is to promote state leadership and ensure community engagement and ownership, Mrs Adeyemi-Doro however, noted that the programme is targeted at the poorest of vulnerable households.
A cross section of beneficiaries, who were parents of the pupils, thanked the government for the laudable initiative and expressed gratitude for the take home rations.
The program, which will cut across seven local government areas this week, will also capture other local government areas and local council development areas in the weeks ahead, starting from next week.