The Deputy Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mrs. Freda Prempeh has urged Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) across the country to build standard kitchens for schools benefiting from the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) in their districts.
This she said will demonstrate the commitment of the assemblies towards the implementation of the feeding programme which has over the years benefited millions of deprived Ghanaian school children.
According to the Deputy Minister, the condition under which most caterers prepare their meals daily for the pupils in the various schools leaves much to be desired, and also cast a slur on the image of the assemblies and central government.
Speaking at the nutrition innovative training and cooking demonstration for 1,321 caterers and head cooks in the Volta and Oti Regions, Mrs. Freda Prempeh said that the school feeding programme required the collective support and collaboration of all stakeholders (MMDCAs and the traditional authorities) for its sustainability.
The training was funded by the World Food Programme (WFP).
She strongly frowned against the situation where the caterers are those providing kitchen spaces in the schools instead of the district assemblies or the Ghana Education Service. “If we allow the caterers to build their own kitchens in the schools, what do we think will happen to the kitchen if a caterer is sacked from cooking in the school apparently for nonperformance or misconduct?”
The Deputy Minister who has made surprised visits to some of the schools across Ghana, expressed disapproval at the kind of eating bowls used by some of the pupils and even where they eat their meals.
She encouraged the assemblies to collaborate with the Ghana Education Service to ensure the kitchens are provided for the school feeding beneficiary schools.
Mrs. Freda Prempeh who is also the Member of Parliament for Tano North Constituency in the Ahafo Region commended the World Food Programme for their support to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and the Ghana School Feeding Programme over the years, but still appealed for more support to enhance the programme.
The Acting National Coordinator of the Ghana School Feeding Programme, Mrs. Gertrude Quashigah who added her voice to the call on the MMDCEs and GES to build kitchens for the caterers, said her commitment is to give GSFP a new face.
According to her, it was imperative for the MMDCE, GES, CSOs and traditional authorities to come on board to support the Government to implement the Home Grown Ghana School Feeding Programme, which she said has enormous benefits for Ghana’s economy.
Mrs. Quashigah is pushing for a strong link between local smallholder farmers in the various districts and those under the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative, and caterers of GSFP for continuous food supply to the programme.
She however warned that the Government and for that matter the Management of the Ghana School Feeding Programme would not entertain any form of mediocrity or poor performance from any caterer. “Any caterer who will joke with this school feeding job will be sacked”.
Mrs. Quashigah indicated that the school feeding programme has created more jobs for women and youth, increased food production, ensured food security, reduced poverty among local farmers and malnutrition among school children.
The Volta and Oti Regions training programme just like the other places earlier held were properly organized and increased the confidence and skill levels of the caterers.
One of the caterers who only mentioned her name as ‘Mother’ described the training as an eye-opener for most of them, especially with the introduction of the Texturized Soy Protein (TSP) from the YEDENT Agro Processing Company in Sunyani which serves as substitute for meat.
She was confident that it will inspire them to do more and work up to expectation.