The attention of the Management of Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) has been drawn to an unfortunate media publication under the headline: “Caterers feed pupils with less quality food” purported to have been caused by some unnamed district directors of education in the Upper East Region at programme held recently.
The said directors, the report alleged said that, “they were not satisfied with the quality and quantity of meals served to pupils in basic schools under the Ghana School Feeding Programme across the Region. They also said that “the meals are of poor quality without the relevant nutrients required to address the nutritional needs of the pupils”.
The GSFP Management does not abhor genuine and constructive criticisms from any Ghanaian. We therefore would have appreciated if the said GES Directors did a good job by telling us or Ghanaians how they arrived at the conclusion that the school feeding in the entire Upper East Region is being poorly implemented.
It is important to state that a social intervention of this magnitude may not be immune from challenges.
Thus, there could be possible infractions and isolated cases of noncompliance to our laid down rules and regulations by some section of our stakeholders.
It is however, improper for the directors to generalise the issue and create the erroneous impression that all the school feeding caterers in the Upper East Region are not doing the right thing.
Quality and Quantity of Food Served to Pupils
For the purposes of informing the public and allaying any fear imposed on parents of the over 3,448,447 beneficiary pupils of the school feeding by the unfortunate comments from a few Directors in the region, all GSFP Caterers and their head cooks have since 2019 undergone intensive Practical Innovative Nutrition Training.
The training was organized by the Ghana School Feeding Programme with support from the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Partnership for Child Development (PCD).
Over 5,711 caterers and head cooks in the Northern, North East, Savannah, Upper East and Upper West Regions benefited from the training between 10th and 21st June 2019.
The training was to empower the caterers with the requisite practical cooking skills using the locally grown foodstuffs for a nutritiously balanced meal for the school children. The Caterers during the training were also introduced to the Texturized Soy Protein (TSP). It is a good source of iron, delivering 15 percent of the recommended daily value and contains all nine of the essential amino acids the human body needs to function.
Again, Caterers of GSFP do not cook at their own discretions but are guided by special menu tables developed for each region of Ghana based on the availability of foodstuffs at the local level in line with Ghana’s goal of implementing a Home-grown School Feeding Programme to improve on the local economy.
Serving of meal by GSFP caterers is also guided by the Handy Measures which help them [caterers] to serve the pupils with the right quantity of meal; and to ensure the children are not overfed or underfed.
Fear of Political Victimization
The media report also alleged that the Directors and stakeholders at the GES across the entire region, said “even though they were concerned about the poor quality of food served to the pupils, they could not complain for fear of victimization. Adding that the School Feeding Programme was being managed by executives of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), which made it difficult for authorities in the various schools on the programme to express concerns about the quality of meals”.
The Management of GSFP finds these comments highly regrettable and unproductive. We also find the comments very inappropriate, because of its potential to undermine and give the programme an unwarranted political coloration.
The Ghana School Feeding Programme as a national social intervention exists to serve the children and farmers of our dear nation Ghana regardless of their political, ethnic and religious persuasions.
Conversely, our checks from the organisers of the programme where those Directors made the comments revealed that the event was not organized to specifically discuss school feeding and the comments, as we also gathered did not represent the collective opinion of the rest of the participants at the event.
Meanwhile, the Ghana School Feeding Programme has currently embarked on a weeklong national monitoring in all the 260 districts across Ghana. We therefore hope to unearth and appropriately deal with those involved in such isolated misconducts.
We also wish to emphatically state that all Headteachers have a role to play in ensuring that food served to pupils meets the required standards set by the school feeding programme.
In case of any concerns, headteachers or teachers or community members are encouraged to report to the District Desk Officers at the District Assembly or the Regional and Zonal Coordinators of GSFP or our Facebook wall for swift redress.
Our Regional Offices are also open to receive every complaint from people in the regions.
The Public Relations Unit