The Regional Educational Directorate Region Four, in collaboration with the Schools Nutrition Association recently convened a stakeholders’ sensitisation meeting on food safety for students, held in Mansakonko, Lower River Region.
Musa Bah, a senior education officer from the Regional Educational Directorate, said the core focus of the Schools’ Nutrition Association is an exploration into the safety of school children in connection with the food they eat in school.
Musa Bah explained that the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) is very much concerned with food hygiene situation in schools in cognisance with the bulk existence of junk food in the markets.
He pointed out that food vendors and teacher coordinators of various schools in Region Four should learn that it is one thing to talk about food hygiene, but another thing to consider the nutritive value of the food students are being offered in schools.
He alerted them to realise that apart from the cost and affordability of the food, students can hardly have choice of the food they consume, irrespective of its nutritional contents and hygiene.
To that end, he said, the Region Four education directorate appreciates the recommendation for schools to ensure that all players in the school food markets register with the School Nutrition Association.
The Executive Secretary of Schools’ Nutrition Association, Sulayman Ibrahim Gagigo, said the overall objectives of the meeting was to present National Food Service Guidelines, which are intended to serve as operational rules for the selling of food in schools.
He recalled that the School Nutrition Association was established in partnership with the Ministry of Education to encompass food vendors and cooks in the WFP feeding programme in schools and public health offices in September 2011.
“We have received series of verbal cases alleging wrong doings by different stakeholders in the manner they handle food in schools. We have reports of lapses in the provision of food lacking basic hygienic standards by vendors resulting to chaos in different schools,” he said.
According to Mr. Gagigo, the association has developed a mechanism to monitor compliance in the application of hygienic standard in the preparation and selling of food in schools and make recommendations for the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education when and wherever necessary.