School feeding caterers call for increased subsidy as food prices soar

Archival photo of schoolchildren

School feeding caterers in the Eastern Region are demanding an increase in school feeding subsidies following soaring food prices.

According to the caterers, the food prices have increased several times, but the government still pays 1 Ghc per meal plate, which makes it extremely difficult to improve the quality of the food served.

“When I started school feeding, cooking oil cost 150 Ghc but now 440 Ghc. A bag of maize cost 150 Ghc but now it is 550 Ghc but the government still pays 100 Ghc per student. also takes taxes on the money, so we are asking for it to be increased. We agree that economic hardship is everywhere, but we are begging,” the caterers said at a youth empowerment forum in Koforidua.

The caterers have also called on the government to pay their arrears saying they are being taken to court by their creditors for non-payment for food bought on credit.

Assin Central MP Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, who was the keynote speaker at the event, agreed with the caterers on the need to increase the food subsidy.

“I have argued that the Ghc1 food subsidy is too small even in the past when food prices were low. So I will take it up. That is a very good analysis you have done. The government is aware of the situation.

On the issue of late payment of arrears, Kennedy Agyapong said he would address the issue to facilitate payment.

He however warned that “but I hope you are not one of those caterers that some of the women organizers and coordinators gave you schools to cook without the approval of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Gender. These caterers have problems because they are not known to the government. It was some party members who used their own powers to give school feeding contracts to women.

The Ghana School Feeding Program (GSFP) is an initiative under Pillar 3 of the Program for Agricultural Development in Africa (CAADP) which aims to improve food security and reduce hunger in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (MDGs) of the Nations (UN) on Hunger, Poverty and Malnutrition.

The basic concept of the program is to provide public primary school children with a hot, nutritious meal, prepared from locally grown foods, each school day.

The objective is to spend 80% of the cost of food in the local economy for economic growth and the revival of agriculture.

The government indicated in the 2022 Budget and Economic Policy Statement presented to Parliament by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, that the program will grow from 3.4 million to over 4 million beneficiaries in 2022.

However, concerns have been raised about the quality of the meals served.

Meanwhile, advocacy group SEND Ghana has called on the government to increase the school feeding grant from Ghc1 to GHS2 to improve the quality of meals given to school children.

“We argue that this is insufficient and cannot guarantee a healthy meal for children who need nutrition for their cognitive and physical development. We urge the government to increase the amount to at least GHS 2 per child to ensure that the program achieves its short-term goal of reducing hunger and malnutrition,” reads the statement from SEND Ghana.

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