The government will remit cash directly to primary schools for purchase of rations under the School Feeding Programme (SFP).
The Sh2.4 billion allocated for the 2018/19 financial year by the Ministry of Education will be remitted directly to schools to buy food directly from farmers and traders in the areas the schools are located.
Speaking in Isiolo when the government took over the programme from the World Food Programme (WFP), Education PS Belio Kipsang said the ministry will ensure prudent spending of the funds.
The government started gradually taking over the feeding programme from WFP in 2009, and opted for ‘home grown’ alternative.
The alternative requires schools to purchase foodstuff that comprise maize and beans from locals to stimulate agricultural production in the areas they are located.
Under the WFP that started in 1981, business people were allowed to tender and provide food from outside the areas the schools are located.
They provided utensils, cooking oil ad other cooking ingredients.
Currently, pupils come with their own bowls and parents have to chip in to buy cooking wares and pay cooks.
‘‘The schools will use the money allocated to them to purchase food from local smallholder farmers and traders dealing in food supply business,’’ assured Dr Kipsang.
The PS was speaking at Aremiet Primary School in Isiolo County during the handing over that was also attended by Governor Mohamed Kuti and Senator Fatuma Dullo.
‘‘The ministry has put in place sufficient measures to provide meals to more than two million children,’’ he said.
The initiative dubbed ‘home grown school meals programme’ will see schools get money from the government directly to buy food from local communities.
Each pupil will be allocated Sh10 per day during school calendar in the lunch only programme.
“This year we have set aside Sh2.4 billion towards the school feeding programme. The schools will work with local communities to ensure the initiative is successful,” Kipsang said.
He said the government will only procure food for four counties in arid lands where food production is low.
The WFP reaches 1.6 million pupils in arid and semi-arid counties.
Early Childhood pupils would also benefit, said the PS.
WFP Country director Annalisa Conte lauded the government for taking over the initiative, saying the programme should continue as it would retain pupils in school and support the agriculture sector.
“The number of children under the feeding programme has grown from 500,000 in 2009 to 1.6 million this year. Despite WFP exiting, we will continue to provide technical support to the government to ensure its success,” Ms Conte said.
Dr Kuti said the school meals programme had increased enrollment in the county but also boosted brain development.
“Isiolo is one of the 25 counties where 26 per cent of children under five are malnourished and have stunted growth. Stunted growth affects brain development and performance in school but the feeding programme will help address these conditions and improve our children’s academic performance,” said the governor.