Achieving #ZeroHunger in Schools: The School Farms Program’s Approach.


The Author: Alfred Godwin Adjabeng, School Farms Program

School Farms Program is a rural community-based school feeding support program that empowers local community schools to grow their own food whilst creating a space to help students gain practical skills, explore opportunities in Agriculture, reduce the feeding budget of the schools we work with and increase the nutritional value of food served to students.

President Ghana.jpgI am Alfred Godwin Adjabeng, a hunger fighter in Ghanaian schools. Some 18 years ago, I was in the Primary School in an undeserved community in Ghana. The experience I had while growing up inspired the work I do today.

Back in school, I had a friend called Ntumy Raymond who was gifted in the arts and crafts. He does it passionately and creatively. Raymond comes from a poor family and can barely secure his daily meals; lunch at school almost always eluded him.

Raymond aspired to be an engineer in future. I often shared my school meal with Raymond and when I am absent from school he is barely left with the hope of a secured meal. Raymond was often caught absentminded in class and most times with his head on the table. He is just hungry, nothing apart from that. He later dropped out of school to support his family get daily bread. What if Raymond could be afforded the opportunity to grow in a healthy school environment with a hope of a secured school meal?

What if Raymond gave all his concentration to active academic work? What if he had enough reason or motivation not to sacrifice his education in pursuit of an income for the house?

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I came face to face with a similar experience whilst in my third year in the University of Cape Coast in 2013. More than sixty (60) public senior high schools in the three Northern Regions of Ghana delayed in reopening after vacation, with some schools facing threats of closure due to the unavailability of food to feed the students whilst others had increased school fees to make up for the deficit. This challenge was attributed to the inadequate government feeding grant and the delay in its release, rise in the cost of feeding, unreliability in the supply of food stuffs from markets, and institutional challenge in dealing with the unfortunate situation facing the school meals regime. I felt a strong connection to this challenge and as was Raymond’s case, I wouldn’t look on for an opportunity for education to be robbed of others. The call to responsibility was what inspired the creation of School Farms Program, a community school feeding support program that empowers communities to grow their own food whilst gaining skills in Agriculture.

Lack of School meals affects access to education, efficient teaching and learning, work especially in poor communities.

Communities hold the power to solve their greatest challenges and therefore harnessing communities’ capacity and resilience to solving their own challenges with local resources is a key element in developing and implementing any self-sustaining school feeding policy alternative.

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There is inefficient transfer of knowledge ‘on a hungry stomach’. Children in schools need energy to grow healthy, learn and aspire. Let’s work to ensure no child studies on a hungry stomach.

In order to ensure the availability, access, stability and proper utilization of school meals, we dedicate 60% of our work for developing School Farms, 20% for Community Resource Mobilization, 10% on local and international donor agencies and 10% for Governmental support. Let us all commit to providing a social safety net for children, that will ensure food security, enhance enrollment and reduce absenteeism.

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Methodology:

Land is cultivated and 70% of the yield is used to feed the students while the remaining 30% is sold to an identified market and proceeds go into a fund. 20% of this fund is re-invested in the farm and 10% is paid to the School Farms Program secretariat for the project’s continuous management. The program also partners with local government institutions like, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture that provides free technical advice in order to help increase yield and access to quality seeds. The community provides land where schools do not have land and hard labor as part of their communal service. There was a 40% reduction in the termly (four-month) feeding budget of the school.

Let’s work to ensure no child studies on a hungry stomach.

Note:

To support School Farms Program, kindly send us an email via info@schoolfarmsprogram.org

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