The Programme Manager, Homegrown School Feeding Scheme, Anambra State, Mrs Eriken Uzoamaka, said the death of 10 cooks of the scheme hampered the running of the programme in the state.
Uzoama disclosed this while speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a two-day capacity building workshop organised by the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice on Thursday in Awka.
She did not mention the cause or nature of the death of the said cooks, but said primary school pupils could no longer benefit from the programme because the 10 dead cooks have yet to be replaced. Uzoamaka said the cooks were recruited from communities around the primary schools, verified and trained in food safety and hygiene by the national body, to provide catering service in the 21 local government areas of the state.
She said, “All the government-owned primary schools in the state should be benefiting from this programme, but due to challenges in the programme, some schools are not benefiting.
“Since the inception of the programme in 2016, about 10 cooks have died and it is affecting the programme in some schools.
“It is only the national body that can recruit and replace them. We have no right to replace them but we have written to inform the national body and they have yet to be replaced.
“Each cook caters for about 150 pupils and they are being paid at the national level. So if you do the calculation, about 1,500 pupils are not benefiting.”
Uzoamaka said the high cost of food items in the country was also affecting the quality of the food prepared by the cooks.
“It is affecting the programme and the quality of food given to the children.
“The cooks are really complaining and the high cost of food items is making it difficult for them to give us an adequate meal per child.
“This development has made the Federal Government agree to increase the meal price from N70 to N100, but it is yet to be implemented,” she said.
The programme manager said the school feeding programme increased the population of pupils, as many children ran away from private schools to enrol in government-owned schools.