The Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Cynthia Mamle Morrison has charged caterers of the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) to ensure they put the interest of the beneficiary children first.
She urged them to prepare meals that are delicious and nutritious, just as they would for their own children at home.
The Minister cautioned the caterers to know that, they would be judged by God for every pesewa they received and expended in the name of the deprived pupils under the School Feeding Programme, a comment which attracted endless applause from chiefs and other patrons.
“If you use better ingredients to prepare better meal for these poor children that you don’t know whether they have parents or not and treat them like you treat your own biological children, then God will bless you, but if you try to cheat the system for your personal gains at the expense of these vulnerable children…I will not say it with my mouth, but I believe we all can predict what will befall you..”
Mrs. Morrison also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Agona West Constituency gave the caution at the International School Meal Day celebration held at Agona Nyakrom in the Agona West Municipality of the Central Region at the weekend.
The event was in partnership with development partners of GSFP including World Food Programme, UNICEF, YEDENT, Amplifies and Partnership for Child Development.
She stated that her administration as part of measures to properly sanitise the system and ensure the sustainability of the Programme would not pay any caterer who would present an inflated budget to government.
“Henceforth”, the Minister said, “every payment file from the districts to the National Secretariat of the School Feeding Programme would be properly scrutinised and investigated before any payment is effected.
She added that “These measures are not being introduced to cause disaffection between my administration and caterers, but as a means for all of us, good people of Ghana to support the Government to smoothly implement the feeding programme so that more deprived children can have an education”.
Mrs Morrison reminded the caterers that the monies they receive as payment for their services to the GSFP are sourced from taxpayers monies, “including farmers, petty traders, taxi drivers, hawkers etc, to help children from deprived homes to realise their dreams of becoming future presidents, lawyers, teachers, doctors and journalists among others.”
The Gender Minister disclosed that the Government in the first term of the 2018/2019 academic year alone paid caterers of the GSFP a whopping ¢186 million.
Mrs. Morrison hinted that her Ministry was developing a new payment system that would register names of all recognised caterers under GSFP to ensure they receive prompt payment for their services.
“There will be no more delay in payment. As soon as the work is done you receive payment,” she said.
The MP for Agona West testified about the efficiency of the caterers in her constituency and the kind of quality of meals they prepare for the pupils in beneficiary schools, and thus encouraged them to do more.
The Acting National Coordinator of the Ghana School Feeding Programme, Dr. Gertrude Quashigah commended the Chiefs and people of Agona Nyakrom and the MP Cynthia Morrison for the successful hosting of the 2019 International School Meal Day celebration.
She charged the caterers to continue to patronize foods produced by the local farmers to make the school feeding programme more beneficial to the people at the local level.
Dr. Quashigah who is a nutrition specialist encouraged the caterers to be nutrition conscious and use more vegetables and other items rich in nutrition for the preparation of the meals.