Schools stand to lose food stocks worth millions of shillings after the Covid-19 pandemic saw them closed in March.
Principals of boarding secondary schools have now resorted to converting the food stocks into animal feeds, returning it to suppliers and in some cases selling the food to pay their support staff.
But some school heads say that the cereals and other foodstuff will go to waste due to bureaucracy in the procurement and disposal processes, raising concerns about their safety if consumed by students when schools finally reopen.
One of the schools that has turned cereals meant for students into dairy feed is Maralal High School in Samburu County.
Principal Maurice Obong’o said the school management reached the decision to avoid incurring losses.“We realised it could a big loss and the best way was to grind the cereals and turn them into dairy feeds,” Mr Obong’o said.
He noted that the food would get aflatoxins that would render it unfit for the learners.
The International Crops Research Institute last year warned that Kenya is a world aflatoxin hotspot, a situation that was contributing to the country’s burden of cancer, with exposure to the substance being responsible for an estimated 30 per cent of liver cancers diagnosed in Africa.
The wastage will be a loss to parents as the government does not have capitation for boarding.
Schools buy food under the boarding equipment and stores vote head, which is charged to parents.
Scientists blame improper drying and storage of crops, lack of information among farmers and lax enforcement of regulations for the aflatoxins menace.
In Narok County, Ololulunga Boys High School principal Joseph Kiminta said he had 200 sacks of maize, 30 bags of sugar, more than 100 bags of beans and other foodstuff in the store.
He said the school management was in talks with suppliers to take back the supplies and find buyers for them.
Naikarra High School principal John ole Kuyo and Maasai Girls High School principal Rose Ateko said they had distributed their foodstuffs to non-teaching staff to sustain them since they s cannot pay their salaries.
Nyandarua’s Karima Girls High School management decided to return all cereals and perishable foods to suppliers when schools did not reopen in May.
250 BAGS OF CEREALS
Private boarding primary schools have also been struggling with stocks, with administrators at Michinda Boys Primary School in Elburgon in Molo saying, they had at least 250 bags of cereals in the store.
The principal of St Thomas Girls Secondary School in Kilifi County, Eunice Mwaisaghe, said they usually buy food monthly. “When we realised we had a lot of food in the store, we returned some to the supplier to sell and repay the food when schools reopen,” she said.
Malindi High School Principal Patrick Mwacharo also said they buy food monthly and so did not have excess.
Tana River Assistant County Commissioner Geofrey Mwachofi said some school heads are under investigation after reports that they were selling foodstuff from their schools.
“We received information from some official sources. Our chiefs have been following up and we have also been trying to verify the authenticity of some of the information,” he said.
Lamu Boys Secondary School Principal Timothy Malili said they had to convince their suppliers to take back some of the food they had bought.
“We had no option but to engage our suppliers who agreed to take back part of the food. The little that we have is safely kept in our stores in the school,” said Mr Malili.
In Kwale, Matuga Girls High School Principal Hellen Machuka said they had sold 15 bags of beans, eight bags of green grams and four bags of maize as well as sugar and rice to the teaching staff and to a contractor.
At Kenyatta High school in Mwatate, the management was forced to return bags of maize, beans and rice to their suppliers.
At Shimo la Tewa Boys High School, Principal Mathew Mutiso said the weather in Mombasa, however, exposes most of the grain to aflatoxin infestation.
At Eronge Adventist Mixed Primary School in Nyamira County, headteacher Kepher Bwana appealed to the government to help store food in its silos.
In Vihiga County, Chavakali High School contracted the services of a neighbouring cereals depot to store its 300 bags of maize and 150 bags of beans.
At Kakamega High School, the principal, Mr Gerald Orina, said that they have 1,000 bags of maize, 300 bags of beans and 100 bags of rice in their stores. The board of management will decide l whether to sell the food at a throwaway price since there is a glut, following a bumper harvest in the region.
In Tharaka-Nithi, Mr Joseph Mutegi, the director of Sunlight Academy, said food worth Sh350, 000 has gone to waste over the period schools have been closed.
The Nyeri High School principal, Mr James Maina, said he negotiated with some suppliers to take back some of the stock.
Meru’s Kaaga Girls’ High School principal Eunice Maeke said they did not record significant losses as most of their food was well preserved.
Courtesy of Daily Nation