Government says pupils under the School Feeding Programme will be served cocoa drink as breakfast beginning next academic year.
The Acting National Coordinator of the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP), Gertrude Quashigah says an official announcement of the new component of the programme, will be made by President Akufo-Addo in August.
According to her, the cocoa drink will be given as breakfast to the children before their daily hot nutritious meal is served to them by mid-morning.
Speaking at the ongoing regional capacity building training workshop organised for caterers, cooks and district nutrition officers under the GSFP at Wa in the Upper West Region, Mrs Quashigah noted that the introduction of cocoa drink would help improve the health of the children.
She indicated that there were other several innovations her outfit was introducing to improve on the GSFP especially, the quality of the meal served to the kids.
Mrs Gertrude Quashigah
Her outfit is also working hard to improve the welfare of the caterers as well as how to expand and sustain the programme to benefit more Ghanaian children, she said.
The Ghana School Feeding Programme was set up to increase school enrolment, attendance, and retention; reduce short term hunger and malnutrition as well as boost domestic food production.
The training, dubbed: “Innovative Nutrition Initiative”, is on the theme: “Improving School Meals through Capacity Building” will equip the caterers and their head cooks to measure up to the required quality standards of preparing a nutritious meal for the pupils.
Training to sharpen skills
A total of 2,070 caterers and head cooks are benefiting from the training programme in the region.
The Ghana School Feeding Programme with funding from the World Food Programme (WFP) and technical support from the Partnership for Child Development (PCD) is to train a total of 5,711 caterers and head cooks in the Northern, North East, Savannah, Upper East and Upper West Regions to sharpen their cooking skills.
The training programme is in two phases -training of District Nutrition Officers on the use of a software called School Meal Planner (SMP) to generate local menus with quantities for use by the caterers and practical cooking training for all school feeding caterers and head cooks in each region.
There would be cooking sessions for the caterers and head cooks on the use of local ingredients to generate healthy and nutritionally balanced meals for school pupils that meet the daily intake of 30% for energy.
The caterers and the head cooks will also undergo food hygiene and storage, cooking and serving under hygienic condition, records keeping and use of handy measures.
All the caterers and head cooks who are participating in the training programme would be awarded certificates of participation.
Managing efficient, effective homegrown ingredients
The Acting National Coordinator indicated that the main goal of the workshop is to train the participants on the use of the meal planner software to generate district based menus.
Secondly, to deepen the involvement and participation of the Regional Coordinating Councils (RCCs), Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in managing an efficient and effective homegrown school feeding programme, she explained.
“The goal of this workshop is also to deepen the involvement and participation of the Regional Coordinating Councils, MMDAs, and the Ghana School Feeding Programme National Secretariat in managing an efficient and effective homegrown school feeding programme,” Mrs Quashigah told the participants.
She appealed to the various RCCs and MMDAs to offer the necessary support to the Programme throughout the training programme to ensure its success.
She was optimistic that the training would inspire the best cooking performance from the caterers for the enjoyment and health benefit of the pupils under the Programme.
The next phase of the training programme, according to Mrs Quashigah would cover the rest of the country.