A total of 2.7 million pupils in public Primary schools have been enrolled on the National School Feeding Programme.
The government is determined to undertake further expansion, Mrs. Cynthia Mamle Morrison, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection has said.
According to her, the programme established by former President J.A. Kufuor has also created over 20,000 direct jobs to caterers and cooks as well as many indirect jobs created along the value chain of farmers and processors.
The Minister made these assertions when she opened a day’s innovative nutrition training and community sensitization for 90 school feeding Caterers in the Agona West and other adjoining Districts at Maryland, near Agona Swedru.
Mrs. Morrsion who is also Member of Parliament for Agona West (MP) enumerated the benefits of the programme saying it provided one hot quality diet for school children in 260 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies throughout the country.
The Minister said that over 9,178 Caterers and Cooks have been trained in 11 regions and additional 6,698 Caterers and Head Cooks would be trained in five regions by the end of 2020 and the programme aimed at training all Caterers in the 16 regions.
“Our innovative Nutrition Training seeks to train Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) Caterers in a practical innovative nutrition cooking demonstration aimed at sharpening the skills for our Caterers and Cooks to perform better on the job” Mrs Morrison said.
She said the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection had collaborated with the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) to distribute local food stuffs to the Caterers to ensure balance diet for the children.
The Minister stated that” a collaborative survey on cost-benefit analysis carried out by (GSFP) MasterCard Foundation and World Food Prgramme(WFP) indicates that spending on school feeding programme is a viable investment”.
The MP said there were other complementary projects on the school feeding programme such as the National Cocoa Drink project for Ghana Education Service (GES) for pupils to enhance their nutritional status.
She said Caterers were encouraged to add soya and green leafy vegetables to school meals in order to increase nutritional content of the food provided.
She said the (GSFP) was proactively collaborating with the Ministry of Agriculture to link all GSFP Caterers to the already profiled farmer based organizations (FBOs) database to ensure local produce was sourced for school meals.
Mrs Justina Marigold Assan, Agona West Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) expressed appreciation to the Minister of Gender for numerous supports to the Programme.
She urged the Caterers and Cooks to use cooking skills acquired at the training to ensure that pupils who eat the food benefitted.
Dr Gertrude Quarshiga, Director of Ghana School Feeding programme called on the Caterers to eschew poor methods of cooking in order not to create health hazards for the consumers who were the future leaders of the country.
Dr Quarshiga assured the Caterers that GSFP was determined to eliminate all bottlenecks facing them to promote quality services to enhance good health of the pupils.