By Emmanuel Amadi, Umuahia
Abia State Governor Dr Okezie Ikpeazu has launched a free midday feeding for pupils in public primary schools across the state as part of the ways to shore enrolment in schools.
With the move, Abia State to becomes the third state that serves free school meals in public schools, the others being Osun and Kaduna in line with the federal government directive in that direction.
Tagged the Abia Free School Meal Initiative, the programme which is in the pilot stage is a public/private sector scheme that will be partly funded by government, donors, farmers and other partners who have a stake in the running of the scheme.
Speaking at the flag-off ceremony held at the Amapu Ntigha PrimarymSchool in Isiala Ngwa North council area, Ikpeazu said that the scheme is one way for public spirited individuals and companies to come together with government and guarantee better health and learning environment for the children.
Ikpeazu said that the present generation owes it a duty to safeguard the next generation and provide them with conducive atmosphere for them to grow and contribute positively to society.
He said that his administration is determined to secure the future of the children who will in no distant time become the leaders of the state, â€œWe have to give them all the necessary incentives that will make them become prepared to take over from us in futureâ€.
The governor enumerated numerous benefits of the free school meal to include nurturing healthy children, and helping them achieve high academic performance, assisting parents by reducing the pressure on household budgets for food.
Ikpeazu said that the free school food program will also boost the local agricultural economy as all the items to be served the children will be sourced from local farmers and producers, stressing that it will also create an avenue for more employments.