As schools resume in Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development (FMHADMSD) with technical support from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announces, it will be taking to the next level, the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), launched by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2016.

This decision results from a joint assessment conducted in the first quarter of 2021 to identify ways of improving, scaling-up and sustaining the NHGSFP. Home Grown School Feeding initiatives promote nutrition education and better eating habits and encourage the diversification of production with a special emphasis on local crops.

The WFP is backing the next stage with a significant transfer of ICT equipment, which includes tablets with access to the PLUS Schools Menus – a free tool to help state Nutrition Officers design nutritious menus for schools. According to the WFP, the hardware will not only support the Ministry’s efforts to digitalize its monitoring and evaluation system but also enable the national rollout of the PLUS School Menu Tool developed by WFP to standardize the cost-effective menu development.

“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,” said Ronald Sibanda, WFP country director.

In line with one of the key pillars for sustaining the NHGSFP, several partnerships have been realised across various relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the government, which have strengthened the collaboration and cooperation for more effective service delivery.

Sadiya Farouq, Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, said the school feeding programme is an important intervention of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. “Through it, hunger, malnutrition, poverty, education can all be addressed. It is an investment that is fully funded by the Federal Government of Nigeria because of its sheer potential as a development driver,” said Farouq.

According to her, the technical support from the WFP is timely, relevant and well appreciated. “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,” Farouq said. According to the ministry’s records, in 2021, the initiative serves school meals to over 9 million pupils in 53,000 public primary schools, making it one of the largest school feeding programmes in Africa.

It has also led to a significant increase in school enrollment across the country. Moreover, 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. 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.



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