The Federal Government says it is taking the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) to the next level.

Hajiya Sadiya Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affaurs, Disaster Management and Social Development, said this in a statement issued by Mrs Halima Oyelade, her Special Assistant on Corporate Communication, on Wednesday in Abuja.

Farouq said the ministry with Technical Support from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) would take the NHGSFP to the next level to address child hunger.

She explained that the next level would boost local economy and increase school enrolment and attendance among primary school pupils.

“The results from a joint assessment conducted in the first quarter of 2021 to identify ways of improving, scaling-up and sustaining the NHGSFP showed success and the need to enhance significant improvement and gains.

“The programme promotes nutrition, education and better eating habits and also encourages the diversification of production with a special emphasis on local crops.

“WFP is backing the next stage with a significant transfer of ICT equipment. This includes tablets with access to the PLUS Schools Menus – a free tool to help state Nutrition Officers design nutritious menus for schools.

“The hardware will not only support the ministry’s efforts to digitalise its monitoring and evaluation system, but also enable the national roll out of the PLUS School Menu Tool developed by WFP to standardise cost-effective menu development,’’ the statement read in part.

The minister explained that by 2021, the breakthrough initiative served school meals to over nine million pupils in 53,000 public primary schools, making it one of the largest school feeding programmes in Africa.

Farouq said it also led to a significant increase in school enrollment across the country.

She added that the programme had provided the much-needed boost to local economies by buying the products of smallholder farmers and providing jobs to more than 107,000 cooks from low-income families.

“The Schools provide local farmers with a predictable outlet for their products, leading to a stable income, more investments and higher productivity.

“The children enjoy healthy, diversified food; this makes it more likely that they will stay in school, perform better and improve their adult job prospects.

“In line with one of the key pillars for sustaining the NHGSFP, several partnerships have been realised across various relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government.

“These have truly strengthened the collaboration and cooperation for a more effective service delivery.

“Key partners include the National Youth Service Corp, Ministries of Agriculture, Education, Information, Trade and Industry, Water Resources,’’ Farouq said.

The minister said the NHGSFP remains an important intervention of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Through it, hunger, malnutrition, poverty, unemployment, education and others can all be addressed. It is an investment that is fully funded by the Federal Government because of its sheer potential as a development driver..

“We at the FMHADMSD are here to ensure that this programme is strengthened and sustained so that it can continue to support the needs of the children, families, women and communities it targets.

“The technical support from the WFP is therefore timely, relevant and well appreciated,’’ Farouq stressed. (NAN)

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