The Ghana Civil Society Platform on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has petitioned government to review the grants allocated for the School Feeding Programme (GSFP) to enhance the quality of food served.
It said the current amount of GH¢1 per child allocated to schools under the Programme was woefully inadequate to provide adequate and healthy diet for child development and ensure the attainment of the SDG on food and inequality.
“We demand that the government increases the amount to GH¢2.50 which will impact on the quality of diet. The government must also expand the programme to capture schools that are currently not under the programme,” it said.
The CSOs in a petition, presented to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP) in Accra, said it formed part of the group’s activities to mark this year’s Global Campaign to fight Inequality.
“The importance of the GSFP in terms of increased school enrolment and reduced dropout rates, as well as the potential to improve the nutritional status of the children cannot be overemphasised,” the CSOs stated.
Presenting the petition on behalf of the platform, Mrs Beauty Emefa Narteh, Co-convener for the group, also called on government to make budgetary allocation for the services of nutritionists into the GSFP to help meet the nutritional needs of beneficiary children.
She said the group’s action aimed at making recommendations to government to help improve on national policies and to ensure a reduction in inequality towards the attainment of the SDGs.
She explained that even though the programme was introduced into schools to help improve on the country’s malnutrition status, particularly among children under five years and adolescent, little had been done to employ the services of qualified nutritionists to assist in the day to day planning, implementation and monitoring of the programme.
The Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) in 2016 pegged the country’s stunting rate at 19 per cent. Nutritional deficiencies are said to be the single largest contributor to mortality and morbidity among children aged 5-14 years.
Nutritional deficiencies among children was also estimated to have resulted in productivity losses of GH¢1.7 billion in 2017, equivalent to 1.2 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP).
“The SFP was introduced with one of its objectives to improve the nutritional status of children. It is worth noting however that, there is limited (if any) involvement of nutritionists on the programme at both national and community levels.
“Qualified nutritionist will ensure adequate nutritional standards are set and met for the SFP to ensure that the meals provided by caterers meet the nutrition needs of children,” she said.
Receiving the petition on behalf of the Gender Minister, Mrs Thelma Ohene-Asiamah, the Acting Director, General Administration said the Ministry would ensure effective implementation of policies to achieve the SDGs.
The Ghana School Feeding Programme was introduced in 2005 as part of the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) Pillar III and the second Millennium Development Goals to help address extreme poverty, children’s nutritional and educational issues.