The Nigerian Home-Grown School Feeding (HGSF)program termed the National home-grown school meal program (NHSMP) aims to deliver a government-led, cost-effective school feeding programme using food that is locally grown by smallholder farmers. Children benefit from a hot nutritionally balanced school meal which reduce hunger and improve education outcomes; farmers benefit from improved access to school feeding markets and communities’ benefit from new catering, processing and food handling jobs. It brings a multiplier effect that will spur economic activities.
There are a total of 3,486 Schools currently benefiting from the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme across the 23 Local Government Areas, 7,262 number women have been recruited as Cooks while a total of 735,280 pupils are currently enjoying the NHGSFP in the State. Meals are pegged at the cost of N70 per child per meal.
Pupils in Primary 1 to 3 are eligible for the school feeding programme.
Objectives of school feeding.
The Kaduna State Government with support from ActionAid/McArthur Foundation carried out a state-wide cooks’ verification exercise, to verify the data of 7,005 Cooks, 3,350 Head Teachers in 3,350 Schools engaged in the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme.
Mothers are considered critical but are often overlooked stakeholder group. In view of their innate interest in the wellbeing of their children, they will be of great advantage in the school feeding value chain. Evidence from field reports showed that many households have their nutrition and financial burdens lessened due to the free meals provided in schools, often to more than one child. However, apart from the few mothers who are cooks themselves, many mothers are not actively involved in the school feeding programme for which some of their children benefit from.
As a complementarity intervention to the functions of School Based Management Committee (SBMC) who also monitor the school feeding programme in the schools, engaging the mothers will provide additional accountability to the programme, by ensuring standard procedures on the HGSFP are adhered to. This structure will also facilitate direct feedback from the children who eat the meals provided in the schools.
Therefore, it is expedient to set-up this additional accountability mechanism to support in the monitoring of the school feeding programme to complement other existing structures. The Kaduna Mothers for Accountability (KM4A) will be a community-based group, comprising of self-motivated women with membership across the 23 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Kaduna State, dedicated to ensuring a transparent process for the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme in Kaduna State.
The State Multi-Sectoral Team (SMT) in collaboration with the cohorts – ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN), Connecting Gender for Development (COGEN), Girl Child Concerns (GCC) and National Popular Theatre Alliance (NPTA) reviewed the alarming situation and which requires a robust community-based approach to rectify the anomalies observed. With the consistent discrepancies in the school feeding programme, it is imperative to strengthen community-based structures, improve their interconnectedness and relationship in order to ensure continuous monitoring of the HGSFP in Kaduna state. As earlier revealed, mothers have innate interest in the total wellbeing of their children. This has been demonstrated through the engagement of parents on school feeding programmes in Ecuador, which has helped to ensure better service delivery (Irene & Venka, 2017), hence, the need to replicate such in Kaduna State.