Gender Minister assures caterers of smooth operation

BY: Desmond Tawiah
Ms Sarah Adwoa Safo
Ms Sarah Adwoa Safo

The Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ms Sarah Adwoa Safo, has promised to ensure the smooth running of the school feeding programme.

She has, therefore, called for calm among caterers and asked the association to work hand in hand with the ministry to improve the programme and its service delivery to pupils across the country.

"I will urge you to stay calm and continue to cook the nutritious meals you have been providing for our schoolchildren. The programme has increased the enrolment of pupils in our public schools so I am pleading with you for us to work together to get the school feeding programme to the desirable state it ought to be, " she pleaded with the caterers.

Ms Safo made the promise at a meeting with the leadership of the Ghana National School Feeding Caterers Association at the ministry in Accra.

Over three million pupils in about 10,000 schools in all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) are benefiting from the school feeding programme.

The programme is said to have significantly reduced the incidence of malnutrition, which is the cause of high vulnerability of children to disease and intellectual malfunction.

Petition

The leadership of the association called on Ms Safo to present a petition on some alleged unfair treatment being meted out to them.

In the petition, the association suggested that the ministry negotiated with the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) to make pre-financing arrangements for caterers so that when the government released funds for their payment, the bank could deduct directly from source.

Ms Safo, in welcoming the leadership of the association, commended them for their patience and sacrifice in partnering the government to provide nutritious meals to children in public basic schools across the country.

She gave the assurance that the ministry was committed to ensure the smooth running of the programme as it was one of the government's flagship programmes designed to reduce poverty and tackle child malnutrition in the country.

"Since I came into office, the school feeding programme has been at the heart of my agenda. I can assure you that we are working to ensure that caterers are paid on time and that we resolve all issues which affect the smooth running of the programme." she assured the caterers.

Ms Safo explained that the programme targeted the poorest areas of the country with a focus on providing one hot nutritious meal to children in public kindergartens and primary schools, "and as such, the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo government is committed to improving the programme and make it worthwhile for our loyal caterers".

The National President of the association, Hajia Asana Salifu, presenting the petition on behalf of the members, mentioned the delay in payment, inadequate feeding cost which is currently pegged at 0.97pesewa’s per child, operational structure and alleged corruption at the school feeding secretariat as issues members were unhappy about.