Food vendors serving government schools in Cross River State under the Federal Government’s School Feeding Programme (SFP) have lamented that they receive two loaves of bread, one live chicken, one crate of egg and 50 sachets of tombrown to feed 70 children in a term.
They have also lamented that since 2020 up till October 2021, they have only been paid once.
Investigation further revealed that the money given to the vendors was half of what they ought to have received.
One of them, Rosemary Jimmy lamented that the quality and quantity of foods given to the children have been very unfortunate.
“You can imagine being given two loaves of bread, one chicken, one crate of egg, fifty sachets of tombrown to feed seventy pupils for one term,” she said.
Rosemary said that they had been afraid to complain because if any vendor complained, her name was swiftly removed from the list of vendors and replaced with those of friends and relatives of the government officials.
“Last term, we were paid just once and this term nothing has been paid us and no food supplied.
“The term is fast running out; while our counterparts in Akwa Ibom have since been paid their complete sum to feed the kids we are still waiting and nobody has told us anything. Why is the situation in Cross River different,” she further lamented.
Another vendor, who gave his name as Romanus Eteng said he serves food in a school at Ikom but the programme is poorly managed as officials may have cornered both money and foodstuffs meant for the children.
“My conscience pricks me that I cannot live up to the expectation of the pupils. They daily look forward to the little ration promised them but that is not to be while officials are busy buying exotic cars and building mansions with the funds meant to provide the kids little rations while in school,” he said.
The headmaster of Primary School Ikot Nyong in Akpabuyo told journalists that in the past two years, no ration had been supplied to the pupils in the school.
“We are just watchers. We as teachers and parents do not have any say because nobody made us supervisors or inspectors to oversee what the vendors serve the pupils or why they have stopped,” he said.
A parent, Mr Livinus Archibong, whose ward is at Government Primary School Atekong in Calabar said: “If the objective of the school feeding programme is to ensure that pupils in public schools across the country have at least a meal a day during school hours, then that essence is completely defeated in the State.”
“Since inception of the programme in 2017, there has been no term that pupils in public primary schools in the State have consistently been given the stated one meal a day during school hours.”
Findings showed that money released to the state by the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs for vendors is usually split into two.
It is alleged that government officials overseeing the programme usually give half to vendors, while ‘coordinators’ for each local government area are given the other half to “purchase food” to be given to vendors to serve the pupils.
Archibong said the consequence of this was that the food supplied was inadequate, sometimes spoilt, over valued or not supplied at all.
A visit to the Food Programme office along Eyo Etta street, off Barracks Road shows that the staff are all coordinators, making brisk money in the name of supplying food to vendors which they hardly do while the children live in hunger.
Meanwhile, our findings revealed further that the coordinators and government officials have distributed forms, forcing all old vendors to back-date the forms to between January and July 2017 whereas food was not supplied then.
New vendors were also directed to use dates of between January to March 2021.
Both new and old vendors have been directed to send the form to: The Program Manager, NHGSFP, no.2 Eyo Ita str. Calabar for official actions to be taken.
But the commissioner for humanitarian affairs, Blessing Egbara said the allegations were completely false.