They are now preparing to take to the streets in a demonstration on Wednesday, June 7, if the matters are not resolved.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, June 4, the Gender Minister, Lariba Zuweira Abudu, addressed the challenges and stated that the ministry has proposed an increase to ₵1.20 per meal, per child, effective 2023.
“In 2023, the cost per meal, per child, per day has currently been proposed as ₵1.20, and we're still in talks with the Ministry of Finance to see how best we can help. If it can be reviewed, we'll let you know.”
“As of April 2023, the ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance, has paid the first and second term arrears of the 2022 academic year. I want to give the assurance here that next week, caterers' arrears will be paid.”
“We have done all the validation, we have done the auditing, and I want to ensure that the auditing and due diligence is done so next week we're paying,” she assured.
However, the National Secretary of the School Feeding Caterers' Association, Dorothy Ofori Sarpong, expressed dissatisfaction with the proposed amount, stating that it is woefully inadequate to feed the children.
“We don't understand why the government is saying that it cannot pay more than ₵1.20 because it is a grant by the World Bank, so I think there is a figure for each child, so why is it difficult for them?”
“It's a grant, so if that grant keeps coming, then I don't see why you cannot afford to pay ₵2 for each child. This ₵1.20 cannot provide any nutritious food for them, and there is a fund. They cannot tell us there are no funds.”
“The World Bank Country Director is saying that there is a grant for it unless they tell us that it is not true,” she lamented.
Madam Dorothy also revealed that some schools have still not been paid between 2019 and 2020, and they have requested the former Gender Minister, Cynthia Mamle Morrison, to provide accounts, but she has not yet responded.
“There are schools that have not been paid for 2019, first term, second term, third term, and then when you come to 2020, first term, second term, third term, there are still non-payment schools over there.”
“And the hot meal that we did for the JHS students during COVID-19, some have still not been paid by Cynthia Morrison. We've been calling on that woman to come and render accounts, but to no avail,” she said.
Caterers under the school feeding programme previously declared a nationwide strike in April, demanding payment of all arrears and an increase of ₵3.50 in the cost per meal.