In fulfilment of the Public Health Act (Act 856) and the job descriptions of the staff of the Environmental Health and Sanitation Unit and the Ghana Health service, periodic educational programmes are organized for food and/or drink holders including the caterers and staffs under the Ghana School Feeding Programme.
The programme started with an opening prayer by Madam Ayambra Monica a school feeding Caterer. The District Environmental Health Officer welcomed the participants to the meeting and encouraged them to be opening minded and contribute effectively to ensure a successful programme.
Topics that were handled during the programme, aimed at disease prevention, and better food handling practices among others. Some of the areas discussed include but not limited to the following:
- Proper food handling
- Storage of raw materials
- Food selection and Balanced diet
- Proper waste management
The exercise was held on Tuesday, 3rd March 2020 at the Assembly Hall of the District Assembly. The main facilitators were the District Nutrition Officer, Madam Dorothy Aawulenaa and the District Environmental Health Officer, Madam Naana Rose Mensah.
the facilitator stressed on the need to prepare a well-balanced diet considering the target group of young children of school going age. He said that during their formative stage, they need food that will enhance their growth especially their brains. He said that a balanced diet is a meal that contains the various food groups in their right proportions and that is what is expected of the caterers always. The school feeding programme, being one of the government flagship progammes for which some African countries have sent delegations to understudy the programme, must achieve its aim and that depends largely on the caterers.
He said that food that do not contain the right amount of nutrients, in the right quantity can lead to malnourishment. A malnourished child is one with a stunted growth. One can easily tell a malnourished child if the child is not growing well and one key symptom to detect a malnourished child is the kwashiorkor looks of lean body with big stomach.
On food selection and storage, the District Environmental Health Officer said that before a caterer buys foodstuffs, especially vegetables and other perishable goods including meat and fish, one should carefully check the way it is stored. Such foods should not be displayed on bear floors or grounds, rather on structures raised above the grounds by at least about one (1) meter. The food must also be protected from dust and flies using well cleaned coverings.
Canned foods must also have the containers not dented while checking the expiry dates before use. Such foods must have labels with clear inscriptions in the English Language.
Again, food purchased for storage before preparation must be lumped together in one freezer/fridge compartment. Foodstuffs must also be washed thoroughly before storage after buying from the market but where one does not have a freezer should use the traditional method.
Caterers preparing food must wash their hands carefully with soap under running water before cooking. It has also become imperative in this Covid-19 pandemic era to cover the mouth and nose using face/nose masks during preparation and serving of foods.
Proper solid waste management must be practiced. Source separation of waste generated in the course of the trade must be done and prompt disposal of organic food must be ensured.
Question was taken from the participants, and same were professionally answered by the facilitators. The Environmental Health Officer thanked the caterers and food vendors for honoring the invitation and participation.
The programme ended with a closing prayer from Madam Augustine at 2:30 pm.
Naana Rose Mensah
(Dist. Envital Officer)
(District Nutrition Officer)