May 9, 2016, 11:32 AM
The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) last Friday handed over a newly-constructed kitchen with store to Busumbala-Farato Lower Basic School in Region 2.
The gesture formed part of the essential package which is in line with the school feeding programme of the WFP, which seeks to promote a conducive learning environment by constructing kitchens with stores, toilets, water sources and classrooms for children.
The kitchen was funded through TNT, the global express logistics and mail company to the tune of 700 US dollars.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony, which was held at the school grounds, Ms Vitoria Ginja, the country representative of WFP, expressed delight to be part of the official handing over of the project.
According to her, a school kitchen with a store was supported by the EU delegation under the Urban Expansion Initiative of the school feeding program.
She commended the EU delegation for their continuous and consistent support to WFP interventions in The Gambia.
According to her, with the funding provided by the EU, WFP has been able to build 5 school kitchens alone in West Coast Region, as well as toilets and established water sources for schools within the region.
She said that this validated their commitment to not just providing food assistance, but also securing the necessary tools that are conducive to education and a healthy environment fit for school feeding.
She added that for over 40 years, the WFP activities have centered on community-based school feeding.
However, in recent months steady progress has been made towards establishing a transition towards a nationally-owned school feeding program.
“This launching, therefore, serves as a stepping stone toward that direction,” she added.
“I must highlight that the role of the school authorities and the community at large cannot be overemphasised. They are charged with the important responsibility of ensuring the sustainability of the initiative, which is the primary focus of WFP and the government”, Ginja continued.
The WFP country representative took the opportunity to applaud the government of the Gambia through the ministry of basic and secondary Education for the strides its continuously takes towards investing in the future of the children of this country.
“To the children, I hope you are excited to have this kitchen from which your mums will cook delicious meals for all of you, because with healthy meals comes sound minds”.
Amicoleh Mbaye, director of schools at the ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, registered her sincere gratitude and appreciation, through the WFP, to EU for the laudable gesture.
She said the availability of a permanent kitchen structure will enhance the conducive environment for the preparation of food for the school children.
“The availability of meals in a hygienic and appropriate kitchen has the advantages of maintaining attendance and taking care of short term hunger so that children can concentrate on their learning,” she said.
Mbaye also stated that the optimal use of this new kitchen will not only motivate children to learn and stay in school, but also encourage parents to send their children to school and keep them from dropping out.
Fatou Cham, the head-mistress of the school, thanked the WFP country representative and her staff for facilitating such a magnanimous gesture from the EU.
She then assured the sponsors that the kitchen will be put into good use, so that short-term hunger will be addressed and the education policy goals of access, retention and quality achieved.