By Stanley Onyekwere
Not less than 120,000 pupils in public schools in the nation’s capital are being targeted by the much awaited school feeding programme in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), according to Coordinator, FCT Homegrown School Feeding programme, Mrs. Victoria Aleogena.
Making this disclosure during a chat with the media in her office, Aleogena revealed that over 123,000 pupils in Primary 1-3, across 626 public schools in the FCT would benefit from the feeding program, which is expected to begin early next year.
She explained that the school feeding programme is a component of the Federal Government’s social safety net designed to primarily increase enrollment, retention and transition in school, and also increase their nutritional and health status.
She adds: “The other major reasons for this commendable programme include increment in local agricultural production because the women will be buying the food items from the locality, and lastly, it will also boost the economy of the food vendors individually, that of the community and state.
“We have not determined how many food vendors yet, but we will be needing about 1250 or 1300”, adding that about 2000 applications have already been received so since August, this year, when the committe was inaugurated.”
While appealing to FCT residents to be patient, the Coordinator assured that the committee has deployed best practices of transparency and professionalism which would be brought to bear in selecting the food vendors, explaining that they had to resort to open ballot system to select the cooks.
According to her, when selected, all the cooks would be required to open account with two or three banks designated by the FCT Administration, through which their monies would be paid to them directly from the Federal Government, adding that the FCTA was working with bakers association to reduce the cost of bread and eggs for the food vendors.
“We are working Agriculture and Rural Development, Education, Social Development, Area Councils Services, and Health and Human Services Secretariats, as well as the FCT Treasury and Economic Planning, Research and Statistic Departments to give the public the best.
“We therefore appeal to the public, especially the parents, guardians and pupils to be patient and understand that we are following due process to give them the best and serve as a model for the states,” she reiterated.