The National Food Buffer Stock Company has revoked the licences of 70 food suppliers to schools under the free senior high school (SHS) policy.
The affected suppliers either supplied poor quality food items or were unable to supply food items to the schools as expected.
Currently, there are 562 suppliers, with the Ashanti Region topping with 95, while the Eastern, Northern, Central and Brong Ahafo regions follow with 92, 70, 53 and 52, respectively.
The Volta, Upper East and Upper West regions have 49, 47 and 43, respectively, with the Western and Greater Accra regions concluding the list with 34 and 27 suppliers, respectively.
The Chief Executive Officer of the NAFCO, Alhaji Hanan Abdul-Wahab, disclosed this to the Daily Graphic in an interview in Accra last Monday.
He said the feeding programme was part of the government's flagship free SHS policy, with NAFCO supervising its implementation to ensure its success.
Alhaji Abdul-Wahab said the blacklisting of the suppliers was a signal to those who were nursing the intention of sabotaging the programme to think twice.
He urged the suppliers to be guided by the terms and conditions of their engagement by NAFCO as they carried out their activities.
Alhaji Abdul-Wahab also warned heads of second-cycle schools against underhand dealings to short-change the school feeding programme because those caught would be handed over to the law enforcement agencies for the appropriate sanctions to be applied.
Currently, he said, officials of National Security had been deployed all over the country, along with its intelligence unit, to monitor and observe the implementation of the programme and warned that they would not shield anyone caught undermining the smooth implementation of the programme.
He explained that NAFCO had the mandate to supply food items to the schools but currently it had given the suppliers charge of perishable food items supply.
Alhaji Abdul-Wahab explained that the suppliers were people licensed by NAFCO to supply food items to schools on its behalf and advised schools that contracted their own suppliers to introduce them to the company to facilitate monitoring.
He explained that NAFCO would be held responsible for any food shortage or poor quality of food supplied and, therefore, urged heads of schools to agree with the suppliers on the quality and quantity of items supplied before they signed the invoices presented to them by the suppliers.
During unannounced visits to the Armed Forces Senior High/Technical School at Burma Camp in Accra and the Tema SHS in Tema last Monday after the interview, Alhaji Abdul-Wahab explained to the heads of the two schools at separate meetings that "the moment you sign the invoice, it means you like the quality and quantity and we, at our end, cannot do anything about it again".
He visited the kitchen staff, inspected the dining halls and stores and tasted the food that had been prepared for the students.
At both schools, he expressed happiness that the implementation of the programme had been smooth so far, noting that the story in both schools was not different from that of the other schools he had visited earlier.
He reiterated his earlier call on heads of schools to reject supplies that they were not comfortable with.
At the Armed Forces Senior High/Technical School, the Headmaster, Lt Col Zuneidu Osman, alluded to the smooth implementation of the programme so far.
He, however, said the school was constrained by the unavailability of enough space to store its supplies and appealed to the government, through the NAFCO boss, to help expand its storage space.
The Headmaster of the Tema SHS, Mr Emmanuel Fiemawhle, said he was happy because there had been a marked improvement in the supply of food items this year over last year.
He said there was good collaboration with the suppliers and commended the NAFCO team for a good job done.