The Sunyani Municipal Chief Executive of Sunyani Municipal Assembly, Honorable Justina Owusu-Banahene, has visited some schools to check on the status of the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) in the Municipality.
The visit is to afford her the opportunity to assess the quality of food being provided by the caterers and also interact with the school children, since they are the beneficiaries of the programme.
Her first visit was to Presby Primary ‘B’ at Abesim to assess a situation Naagyeifmonline.com has learnt was brought to her office concerning the environment where the caterers prepare their dishes and the construction of their kitchen.
Interacting with the caterers the MCE encouraged the caterers to treat the children as they would treat their own children at home.
“You are all mothers and I expect you to give these children, food that you will give to your children at home.”
According to Hon. Owusu-Banahene, it is important for the caterers to be guided by skills and ensure that nutritiously balanced meals are always prepared and served under hygienic condition to the school pupils.
Anything short of that, she indicated will attract stiff sanctions which include suspension, termination of contract or even jail terms.
Cooking of unwholesome food for public or human consumption is against the laws of Ghana and caterers are required to meet the standards of cooking.
Naagyeifmonline‘s Seth Opoku Agyeman who followed the visit reported that Hon. Owusu-Banahene, said the GSFP had the basic concept of providing children in public primary schools in deprived communities with hot nutritious meals, prepared from locally grown food stuff as part of government’s effort to attaining MDG 1and 2 which seeks to eliminate extreme hunger, poverty and achieve basic education.
She said the health of pupils on the programme is of paramount importance and should not be compromised and added that this can be compromised by caterers who do not practice good hygiene.
The diverse consequences, Hon. Owusu-Banahene, noted, are the spread of diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, tuberculosis and hepatitis to vulnerable pupils through various activities in getting food ready for them.
“Without a holistic effort of all and sundry to coordinate efficiently and effectively by holding bold the virtue of this pragmatic programme, the path of which we are championing would be to no avail”, Hon. Owusu-Banahene, said.
She appealed to the caterers to undergo periodic medical examination and failure to do so would lead to the withdrawal of their services.
She said Most of the traceable food-borne illnesses result from improper handling in the food service establishments, most of which are preventable with proper food handling and personal hygiene.
Sunyani MCE said poor food hygiene could lead to large numbers of infectious agents in food leading to some food-borne diseases with long term effects.
Hon. Owusu-Banahene, appealed to the caterers to prevent microorganism from getting into food as good hygiene prevents food contamination and food poisoning.
The GSFP is one of the important government initiatives to encourage needy children to go to school. Under the programme, pupils in deprived schools are given one nutritious meal a day.
The GSFP, which was previously placed under the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development since its implementation in 2005, was moved to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection last year.
Hon. Owusu-Banahene accompanied by her municipal works engineer , Mr. Daniel Ofori, said the goal of the policy was to deliver a well-organized, decentralized home-grown school feeding programme that “provides disadvantaged schoolchildren with nutritionally adequate, locally produced food, thereby reducing poverty through improved household incomes and effective local economic development”.
She said GSFP, is intended to provide sustainable, efficient social development support to children in deprived Ghanaian communities through an efficient and reliable school feeding programme.
She charged the municipal works engineer to ensure early completion of the kitchen.