From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The Federal Government has trained at least 66 cooks across the 33 local government areas of Oyo State on how to prevent food poison, especially those participating in the school feeding programme.
The training programme, which took place on Ibadan, was organised by the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development. Two cooks were invited for the training from each of the 33 local local government areas of the state, and they are expected to give feedbacks to other cooks on their respective local government areas.
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The resource person in charge of the state, Olufemi Abayomi Falepita, who trained the cooks, at the nationwide documentation and training of cooks on the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), told them to always maintain safe and hygienic environment, ensure correct food procurement processes that include food costing and kitchen portion control, standardise food production that has to do with meal quality and quantity to ensure consistency and standardisation.
The cooks, however, thanked the Federal Government, especially Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, for the opportunity. They added that the training was informative and educative.
But the cooks, who are the vendors in the NHGSFP across the state, said the programme has stopped in the state since 2020. They added that the stoppage has made many pupils to lose interest in coming to school. They believe that of the school feeding programme is resuscitated in the state, many children would be encouraged to go back to school.
The State Coordinator of the vendors, Mrs. Toyosi Ajobo, described the school feeding programme as a way of tackling the effect of the high level of poverty in the country. She appealed to the Federal Government to continue the programme in the state.
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Her words: “We (NHGSFP vendors) are over 3,000 in Oyo State, but 66 were selected to attend this training, which means, two from each local government. So, we are expected to go back home and train our people. We have been trained on the ways to prepare food for the kids. We were also trained on the ways to buy perishable and other ingredients. We were also trained to always dress neat and prepare good food.
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“We thank God there is no more coronavirus in the country. In the year 2020, we didn’t work at all. In 2021, we only worked twice for the whole year. Many children have stopped coming to school since we have stopped the school feeding programme. It also affected our personal economy. We are now appealing to the Federal Government to pay Oyo State vendors so as to continue with our work.
“Even, as we are not taking food to school, we are still going to inspect those children. Our discovery is that many of these children are not coming to school again. For you to know the rate of poverty in the country, when we started the programme, there was a pupil, who had not seen an egg before let alone eating it.
“He held the egg in his hand and was just looking at it. He did not know what to do with the cooked egg. The rule is that each pupil must peel the egg by himself or herself. Some pupils would even take the food we gave to them to their respective homes for their siblings to share with them.”