A Nutritionist, Miss Jessica Bartholomew, has commended the federal government for its plan to provide nutritious meal to 5.5 million children.
Bartholomew gave the commendation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, while reacting to President Muhammadu Buhari’s broadcast to mark his one year in office.
Buhari, in a nationwide broadcast, said 5.5 million children would be provided with nutritious meals through his administration’s school feeding programme to improve learning, enrolment and completion rates.
Bartholomew, a Nutrition Officer with a Kaduna-based NGO, Positive Hope Support and Care Initiative, said the measure would cut down the high rate of malnutrition affecting children in the country.
“Finally, people are beginning to see the need for nutrition in promoting healthy living and development of children. Children are dying of malnutrition daily and those that manage to remain alive, end up stunted or wasted, affecting their capacity to acquire education and development to adult hood.
“We had shouted at different fora, but nobody seemed to care or listen, because of the erroneous perception that nutrition is just about food. Thank God, we now have a president who understands our cry and is taking proactive steps to address the challenge,“ she said.
She, however, added that the right people must be involved in the implementation of the programme to ensure its success, lest it becomes a wasted effort.
The nutritionist advised that the people that would be engaged in preparing the meals must be certified cooks.
“The cooks must also possess the requisite knowledge and skills to prepare the meals according to standard, otherwise they would only be serving food with no nutritional value to the children, “she said.
On his part, the Technical Officer, Care-link Resource Foundation, also a Kaduna-based NGO on nutrition, Mr Silas Ideva, told NAN that the step would improve the current nutrition status in the country.
Ideva said the current nutrition status, particularly in the north is alarming.
According to him, most children do not have access to nutritious meals at home, adding that getting a good meal in school through the programme would go a long way in tackling the malnutrition crisis in the country.
He equally advised the federal government to involve all stakeholders in the implementation of the programme to ensure its success.

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