The plan to feed school children at home is not a scam, Minister of Disaster Management, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, Hayiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, said on Thursday.
She defended the Federal Government’s decision to spend N679 million on the programme.
The minister spoke in Lagos at a programme to begin the distribution of food items under the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) at the St. Francis Primary School in Maryland.
She was represented by the Director of National Commission for Refugees, Immigrants and IDPs, Mrs Margaret Ukaegbu.
According to her, feeding children at home is an internationally accepted practice to check food insecurity and malnutrition among vulnerable people during emergencies.
The minister added that 16 other countries, such as Liberia and South Africa, were feeding children, despite school closure.
“So, the idea of take-home rations is not unique to Nigeria, neither is it a scam. It is a globally accepted means of continuing to have access to nutrition and nutritionally-rich foods, despite disruptions to the traditional channels of school feeding,” she said.
Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on the NHGSFP, Mrs Titilola Adeyemi-Doro, said 37,589 households were selected out of about 112,767 pupils benefiting from the school feeding programme in Lagos based on their vulnerability.
“Knowing fully well that the resources available could not cover all households with pupils in primary 1 -3 across the public schools, the team engaged the community to formulate the definition of being poor and not being able to provide for their wards – women or widow-headed households, households headed by persons with a disability, households whom the head has lost his or her job and have no or little income among other criteria,” she said.
Each family will get 5kg bag of rice, 5kg bag of beans, 500ml of vegetable oil, 700ml of palm oil, 150mg of tomato paste, half a crate of eggs, and salt.
The pilot beneficiaries cut across seven Local Government Education Authorities (LAGEAs), including Somolu, Oshodi-Isolo, Apapa and Kosofe.
Chairman of Lagos SUBEB Wahab Alawiye-King said the initiative would continue monthly as long as schools remain closed.
Lagos State Education Commissioner, Mrs Folasade Adefisayo, urged parents to use the rations to prepare nutritious meals for the pupils and boost their intelligence quotient.