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WFP says school meals will boost learning, local economies

The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP), has said the Federal Government’s National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), promote nutrition education and better eating habits and encourage the diversification of production with a special emphasis on local crops.  

This, it said, is because schools provide local farmers with a predictable outlet for their products, leading to a stable income, more investments and higher productivity.

Accordingly, the programme has provided a 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.

Besides, 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, it added.  

To this end, WFP said it is backing the next stage of the initiative being managed by the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHADMSD) with a significant transfer of ICT equipment.

This is sequel to a joint assessment conducted in the first quarter of 2021, to identify ways of improving, scaling-up and sustaining the NHGSFP.

One of the best ways of fighting hunger and preventing malnutrition among children is to provide them with a healthy school meal.

In a joint statement issued in Abuja and made available to Sustainable Economy, the UN agency said the ICT equipment will include tablets with access to the PLUS Schools Menus – a free tool to help state Nutrition Officers design nutritious menus for schools.

It added that the hardware will not only support the Ministry’s efforts to digitalize its monitoring and evaluation system, but also enable the national roll out of the PLUS School Menu Tool developed by WFP to standardize cost-effective menu development. 

Commenting, WFP Country Director, Ronald Sibanda, said: “One of the best ways of fighting hunger and preventing malnutrition among children is to provide them with a healthy school meal.

“Nigeria is a good example of where the Government has taken the lead from day one and invested resources and funding into the design and implementation of its National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme. This is a great initiative and WFP is very pleased to provide technical support for the Government of Nigeria.”

On her part, Federal Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, said: “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 World Food Programme is therefore timely, relevant and well appreciated.”

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