By Nabilah Hassan Umar
The National Homegrown School Feeding Programme has resumed in Kaduna state last Wednesday, after it was suspended in March 2020, following the Covid-19 pandemic. Speaking during the resumption of the programme, the Kaduna State Focal Person – National Social Investment Programmes, Saude Amina Atoyebi, said that the feeding programme has now been strengthened.
‘’In Kaduna state, we currently have over 730,000 pupils in classes 1 – 3 of our public primary schools benefitting from the programme. Over 7,000 cooks are employed across the state to provide meals for the pupils across the 23 LGAs in over 3,400 schools,’’ she said. The Focal Person noted that pupils will benefit from this social safety-net which has been afforded them by the government, adding that ‘’for many pupils, this is the only decent meal that they get to eat daily.’’
Saude disclosed that Kaduna State Government has put many mechanisms and efforts in place to strengthen the school feeding programme. ‘’Through the efforts of the School Feeding Multi-Sectoral Team, the state government used the period of school closures to form accountability groups of mothers in several schools which is called the Kaduna Mothers for Accountability (KM4A) Group,’’ she said.
According to her, KM4A ‘’ is a voluntary association of selfmotivated mothers of pupils in the same school who will work together to hold the cooks to account and ensure that the quality and standards of the school feeding programme are maintained.’’ ‘’They have been trained with support from the McArthur Foundation, through ActionAid Nigeria and the other cohorts working in the state, to handle minor infractions and scale up more serious issues to the Social Investment Office as required.
‘’Many of these mothers have several children in these schools and are vested in seeing that their children benefit optimally from the programme,’’ the State Focal Person added. Saude further said that Kaduna state is collaborating with the Bill Gates Foundation to deepen financial inclusion among the cooks and explore creative ways to improve their financial literacy and business acumen.
‘’The state government, in collaboration with Partnership for Child Development (PCD), successfully conducted a menu standardization and handy measures training which was aimed at ensuring that meals prepared met the required reference nutrient intake for our pupils. ‘’It is our hope that with the training which has been cascaded down to all cooks in the state, the meals will taste the same and more importantly contain the nutrients required for our children to grow and be healthy,’’ she added.
The State Focal Person also disclosed that Kaduna state has established a call centre where those who wish to report issues on the programme can do so, adding that through this medium, ‘’grievances can be addressed promptly by professionals who ensure that issues are resolved timeously.’’ While appreciating the federal government for the programme, Saude pointed out that the measures taken to strengthen it, underscore the commitment of Governor Nasir El-Rufai to the National Homegrown Feeding Programme..
She thanked all stakeholders ‘’ who have turned our vision for the programme to reality, especially our donor partners, particularly the McArthur Foundation through its cohorts; ActionAid Nigeria, FOMWAN, COGEN, NPTA and GCC. Gates Foundation, PCD, the Multi-Sectoral Team who work tirelessly on feeding matters in the state.