School feeding: Parents, pupils decry reduction in food quantity

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N-SIP official seeks review of ‘no payment, no feeding’ policy

Uba Group

BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO

Parents and pupils of public primary schools under the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme in Osun State have decried the reduction in the quantity of food being served to the learners.

The NHGSFP is a Federal Government initiative aimed at improving the wellness, mental health and educational outcome of public primary school pupils in the country.

Checks by The Point revealed that the nationwide increase in prices of food items had negative effects on the quality and size of meals being served to the pupils. The programme, which was suspended in the state during the closure of schools in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, resumed last week in Osun State.

When our correspondent visited some schools in Osogbo, Ilesa and Ile-Ife, the food vendors were sighted serving the pupils. But, the pupils complained bitterly about the quantity of food being served. According to them, the quantity at the inception of the school feeding programme in 2016 was better than now.

“Some of the parents have urged the federal and state governments to improve upon the scheme in the interest and health of the pupils”

Investigation by The Point showed that each of the pupils was being fed with N42 worth of food. Against the practice at the inception, it was gathered that the pupils were no longer served fruits. Some of the pupils who spoke with our correspondent said that the essence of the programme was gradually being defeated.

“The food being served is not sufficient. The fish being served with the rice is very small. I was not satisfied with the meal. Government should intervene in the situation,” Sodiq, a male pupil of St Andrew’s Primary School, Oke-Baale, Osogbo, said.

Samuel, a pupil of The Apostolic Primary School, Okesoda, Ile-Ife, also complained about the size of the food being served. He said that he always augmented with the food that he brought to school from home.

“I usually bring more food from home to eat during break time because the food being served at school is too small. I am usually not satisfied,” Samuel said. An official of the school, however lauded government’s efforts in feeding the pupils.

One of the pupils of All Saint’s Primary School, Owo-Ope, Osogbo, who gave his name simply as Toheeb, said, “The food being served is not enough for me. It was unlike before. We used to eat apple and chicken at the commencement of the programme. Now, I buy biscuit at break time to eat after eating the meal.”

Meanwhile, some of the parents have urged the federal and state governments to improve upon the scheme in the interest and health of the pupils.
A parent in Ilesa, Patricia Adepoju, urged the government and other stakeholders to increase the budget for the home grown school feeding programme in view of the hike in prices of food items.

The food vendors denied the claim that the portion being served was too small while calling for a review of the budget for the school feeding. In an interview with The Point, two food vendors under the scheme, Mistura Ojerinde and Morufat Ganiyu, described it as laudable.

Ojerinde a food vendor at AUD Primary School, Igbo Owa, Ejigbo in Ejigbo Local Government Area of the state, and Ganiyu a vendor at Ansarudeen Primary School, Isale Osun, Osogbo in Osogbo Local Government, appealed to the government to show greater commitment to the programme.

Abimbola Bello of the National Social Investment Programme in Osun State, tasked the Federal Government on the need to ensure that funds were released to states on time for seamless operation.