In a bid to enhance knowledge of safe and nutritious cooking methods, as well as proper food handling skills, school matrons, caterers, and cooks at the Tolon District Senior High and Basic Schools have undergone training on the utilization of parboiled unpolished rice to optimize school menus.
This effort aims to empower school caterers to serve fortified parboiled unpolished rice and other local nutritious foods, forming a crucial part of the comprehensive social and behaviour change campaign to encourage healthier food choices and eating practices.
Moreover, this initiative presents an opportunity to address the issue of malnutrition in the Tolon district, where a study has found that food acquisition difficulties are a significant risk factor for severe acute malnutrition in the region.
The World Food Programme (WFP) is implementing the ‘Catalyzing Good Food Through School Feeding Program,’ a two-and-a-half-year project supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ghana Education Service (GES) as implementing partners.
In an interview with Citinews, Emma Anaman, a Programmes Policy Officer at the WFP, acknowledged that providing nutritionally balanced meals for students may be costly.
However, she emphasized that the cost of neglecting nutrition and the resulting impact on malnutrition is even higher.
“Yes, it may be expensive, but it is even more expensive when you don’t pay attention to nutrition,” she pointed out.
She also expressed optimism that if the GES complements their efforts with school gardening, it will significantly support the limited funding available for the school feeding program and instill the habit of growing food at home.
“It will help instill good farming habits in the students if they understand the importance of growing their own food,” she added.
Anaman encouraged the participating schools to take the project seriously to achieve the desired results, enabling the WFP to expand the initiative to other regions.
The caterer training and cooking demonstration will encompass six primary schools and six senior high schools in the Bolgatanga, Kasena Nankana, Tolon, Ejisu, and Shai-Osudoku districts for the pilot project’s implementation.
In total, at least 96 caterers, cooks, and matrons from partner schools are set to benefit from this pilot project, enhancing their awareness of the use of parboiled unpolished rice and rice fortification.