Abia State government has kicked off a free feeding programme in the state aimed at giving pupils free lunch daily in all public primary schools.
The first phase of the programme was flagged off at Ntigha primary school in Isiala Ngwa North council, at the weekend by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, who said the initiative was borne out of a genuine desire to invest in children who are the future leaders.
Speaking at the event, the governor said he understood what it meant to go to school on an empty stomach as well as the pains some parents go through to provide meals for their children, saying that under the scheme, every pupil in Abia was sure of at least one meal a day.
He lamented at the tons of food that end up in the dust bin on daily basis by the affluent while some children go hungry due to lack and stressed the need to bridge the gap as he pledged to sustain the programme.
According to the government, the programme would help meet the basic nutritional needs of children and expand the opportunity to reach their full potential and significantly enhance the academic performance of the children and will feed a total number of 136, 258 pupils, who will consume 408, 774 fresh eggs, 51, 09, 670 grammes of ofada rice and 68, 120, 000 grammes of beans, weekly.
Abia state is the third state coming after Osun and Kaduna states to embark on the free lunch which is seen to be in conformity with one of the provisions of the Child Rights Act “right of survival and development of the child.
The government also added that the programme, which is a private/public scheme to be supported by farmers and other partners, would reduce the pressure on households for food, enhance the implementation of the requirements of the Child Right Act which Abia domesticated in 2006.
The Federal Government had last Thursday flagged off the school feeding programme, which is expected to ensure the feeding of over 24 million primary school children. The programme, which was launched by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, is part of the N500 billion social investment plans of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and would see that each child is given one meal per day in the first year of its operation.