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Curbing malnutrition in Lagos schools receive a boost

An appeal has been made for more corporate organisations and well-to-do individuals to join the fight against acute malnutrition in the country.

Statistics by UNICEF Nigeria show that as a result of acute malnutrition, the country has the second highest burden of stunted children in the world, with a national prevalence rate of 32% of children under five.

The President and founder of a nongovernmental organisation, the Lagos Food bank, Michael Sunbola made the call  during the unveiling of a partnership between the NGO and Nutzy peanut butter,  tagged “Buy a jar, feed a child campaign”, aimed at treating malnutrition among pregnant, lactating mothers and children .

“The partnership is very critical to two of our programmes: ‘the nutrition and school feeding programmes’. The school feeding programme is the one where we target children in low-cost private schools. These are not the typical private schools for the elite; but schools where the parent pay fifty to one hundred naira per day as school fees and we identify these schools in different parts of Lagos and feed them three times a week,” Mr Sunbola recounted.

  Mr Sunbola, who said over 1.8 million vulnerable people have benefitted from the Food bank initiatives, expressed confidence that, with the latest partnership, more malnourished children, especially those between three and eight years in nursery and primary schools would be reached.

He said that in addition to donating food and other resources, philanthropic Nigerians could also volunteer to gather donated items and help distribute them to the vulnerable.

Mr Sunbola said he founded the Lagos Food bank in 2015, having been a victim of malnutrition while growing up.

“I was among those who suffered food insecurity while growing up,” he narrated.

“I went to school several times on empty stomach. My family was the ordinary average family; so, I know what it feels like to not have food in your tummy, go to school hungry and also go to bed hungry.”

The Head, Corporate Social Responsibility of Airena Foods, Serena Ramnani, said her company decided to partner the Food Bank because, as a locally based entity, it could not look away from issues affecting a large number of  people, especially children, who are the most vulnerable.

“We recognise the role peanut butter play in treating malnutrition, and because we do not have the platform to reach a large number of those affected, we decided to partner with the Lagos Food Bank, which already have programmes treating malnutrition and we felt fully  confident that they are the right partner to donate our product to.”

For every jar sold, she said, a sachet of the product will be donated to the Food bank.

Mrs Ramnani said even though Nigeria is the largest producer of peanuts, otherwise known as groundnuts in Africa, Nigerians ate only imported peanut butter prior to 2014, when her company took the initiative to start local production.

Reporting by Omolara Omosanya; Editing by Daniel Adejo.