By Funmi Ogundare
The Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB),recently held a five day training for food handlers drawn from the Local Government Education Authority(LGEA) across the state, on Covid-19 safety protocols in public primary schools.
The programme themed, ‘Quality Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyle during Covid-19 Pandemic’, was aimed at strengthening their capacity to effectively their duties hygienically and efficiently. It will ensure that they serve the pupils food by mid-day everyday of the week.
The Executive Chairman of the board, Wahab Alawiye-King who declared the programme opened, said the theme was apt considering the present reality, adding that the application of the principles of environmental sanitation, personal hygiene and established food safety practices, cannot be overemphasised.
He emphasised on the national home grown school feeding programme, a social intervention initiative of the federal government to promote social protection whereby pupils in primary one to three in public primary schools are given one nutritious meal per day.
He commended the federal government for its commitment towards the initiative in Lagos saying, ” this has continued to increase enrolment and retention rates of pupils in public books and also helped to improve their nutrition and healthy status.
Alawiye-King recalled that the feeding programme had commenced in the state last year, but it was abruptly halted due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic and the closure of schools.
“As we prepare to resume the continuation of free mid-day meals as directed by the federal government, it is crucial that we adequately sensitise and train all our stakeholders including food vendors and food handlers on the required hygiene practices for a safe school feeding exercise, ” the chairman stressed.
He said the board was in talk with the ministry of humanitarian affairs and Disaster management to ensure that all the vendors go round all the schools in the state.
“Let us remember that the war against Covid-19 is not yet over, we must therefore, continue to take adequate preventive measures. Statistics shows that lack of hand washing accounts accounts for 33 per cent of all related food poisoning cases. It is therefore important that handlers in the school maintain good hygiene practices, “Alawiye-King said.
A Permanent Board member in charge of Special Project, Bayo Adefuye stressed the need for them to imbibe the Coid-19 protocols in the discharge of their duties, adding that environmental officers will be going round to inspect where they cook.
He appealed to them to treat the pupils as they would their children.
“You are our critical stakeholders because you are the ones who will serve our children food in school, so you must not joke with it. You must take it very seriously by following all the Covid-19 protocols, ” he said.
A community leader in charge of distribution of food in Ebenezer Primary School, Egbeda, Chief Olaide Anifowose appealed to the board to ensure that the prices of food that will be supplied to schools are subsidised and the foods are of the right quality.
The event witnessed the distribution of identification cards to the vendors.