Dorothy Ofori Sarpong, the leader of the school feeding caterers, has revealed the dire consequences faced by some of the caterers under the programme due to debts, resulting in a few even fleeing their homes to escape their creditors.
She revealed that the distressing situation has led to one person losing her eyesight as a result of a lack of funds to purchase the necessary medication, while another individual tragically lost her life due to incessant pressure from debtors.
"It is sad. It is collapsing homes. I have one woman around me; she has gone blind because she couldn't get any money to buy medicine. Another woman has died because of the pressure. With this school feeding thing, if we don't find something else doing, we will all die," 3news.com quoted her to have said in an interview with 3Fm on June 5, 2023.
The caterers, who have been on strike in demand for an increase in the rate per child under the programme, have vehemently rejected the government's recent offer to raise the rate from 93 pesewas (GH¢ 0.93) to 1 Ghana cedi and 20 pesewas (GH¢ 1.20). They argue that the unilateral decision by the government without their involvement displays flagrant disrespect and a disregard for the value of services.
According to the caterers, the proposed subsidy of one cedi and twenty pesewas per student is woefully insufficient to prepare nutritionally balanced meals for the pupils in the basic schools.
They maintain that the said amount provided by the government fails to consider the rising costs of food and other necessary ingredients.
"You just propose one cedi twenty pesewas (GH¢ 1.20) without consulting the caterers. How are we going to use one cedi twenty pesewas to cook a good meal for the children? It can't be possible. We are just waiting for them (the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection) to come. They don't respect us; they just want to push things on us. This one cedi twenty pesewas? We cannot cook with it," she added.
According to her, they feel disrespected and disregarded by the government's approach to resolving the issue.
"The minister never engaged anybody ever since we started this fight. Nobody has engaged us, so she shouldn't say so. Because we said that this Wednesday, we are going to embark on a naked demonstration to the presidency, and that is why I also believe that the World Bank country director also threatened that they are going to withdraw their grant because there is no transparency in the school feeding payment. That is why she rushed to come and say that," she alleged.