Caterers working under the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) have threatened to withdraw their services over unpaid monies.
The over 4,000 caterers alleged that they had not been paid from May 2016 to December 2016. The debt which has accumulated over the period amounts to over GH¢140 million, a situation that has made it difficult for them to continue to provide food for the children.
The Public Relations Officer of the Ghana School Feeding Caterers Association, Maame Yaa Duodua, told the Daily Graphic in an interview that although the association was concerned about the fate of the children, the accumulated debt was making it difficult for members to continue cooking.
“What the women are saying now is that they don’t want to cook, because there are no funds. Already, some caterers have not even been cooking since school reopened, because there is no money,” she said.
She added, “We are not in favour of what the caterers are threatening to do, but the question is, when are we going to get our money?”
Sacrificed for long
According to Maame Duodua, the women had sacrificed for long, and that was why they kept cooking last year although they did not received any money.
“We are much concerned about the children, that is why we have sacrificed all this time. But we cannot keep going back to our creditors because they do not want to give us items to use to cook again,” she said.
She further explained that the money currently being demanded was for “what we have already cooked and we are yet to receive our money. We have over 4,000 caterers now who are yet to be paid.”
She said although the Gender minister-designate mentioned the issues of unpaid feeding grants at her vetting, it was long overdue and the association did not know how long members were to wait to get their monies.
“The good thing is that when the Gender minister-designate was vetted, she spoke about it; but our problem is that it is long overdue and school has reopened and we are still cooking. We don’t exepect the minister to assume office today and pay caterers now, which is not done,” she added.
Attempts to recover monies
The PRO of the association explained that several attempts to get their grants paid had proved futile.
“We have written to them and gone there several times but it didn’t work. Before school reopened, we went to the Ministry of Gender and we met the Deputy Chief Director, who told us the money would be paid. We went there on January 8, 2017 but till date nothing,” she said.
Showing a text message supposedly from the management of the GSFP to the reporter, she explained; “His text message was sent to us that our money was going to be paid before the elections but to date, we haven’t received anything. We are always told it is coming, but school reopened on January 10, and we have been cooking, and still our money hasn’t come.”
She added, “What they are telling us no w is that they don’t even know when the money is coming, because they claim the cheque has been with controller for over three months, always controller is the excuse.”
The GSFP is an initiative to reduce hunger and malnutrition while increasing school enrolment and attendance.