- Students eating healthier as a result of an initiative by the Swallowfield Church
- The group from the Swallowfield, St. Andrew, prepares locally grown fruits as snacks for the students
- The programme initially received assistance through JEEP
Students from several schools in the Corporate Area are eating healthier as a result of an initiative by the Swallowfield Church of God of Prophecy, through its Institute for Mobilisation, Partnership and Action for Community Transformation (IMPACT) Limited.
Through the initiative, a group from the Swallowfield community in St. Andrew, carefully prepares and packages locally grown fruits as snacks for the students of New Providence and St. Francis Primary and Liberty and St. Peter and Paul Preparatory schools.
The programme initially received assistance through the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) as part of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries’ contribution to the National School Feeding Programme. It has since become an income earner for several persons in the community who are employed for up to 20 hours per week to prepare the snacks.
In an interview with JIS News, Pastor at the church and Programme Co-ordinator, Melonia Waugh, informs that the initiative is aimed at ensuring that children have daily intake of nutritious snacks in their diets.
“We source the fruits presently from the market, which is four fruits per plate -melon, orange, papaya, apple or mango…We use only Jamaican fruits that are in season,” she says.
She adds that the healthy snacks are properly packaged in plastic containers and labelled before being sold for $40 each. She notes that even though other schools are on board the abovementioned four are the most consistent in ordering the products.
Pastor Waugh says members of the Swallowfield community are appreciative of project as it creates employment for them.
“The community is excited about this too…I must say that there is a young lady who will take like 40 fruits in the mornings and she will sell to the community children as well,” she says.
She informs that through the programme six persons are currently employed and are excited about their job.
For Shanecia Hussey, who is a direct beneficiary of the initiative, the money earned from the programme assists with paying for her evening classes. She says the project means a lot, especially since she was unemployed before it began.
Another beneficiary, Kacian Thomas, informs that through the initiative, she has been exposed to various forms of making fruit cups, fruit plates and natural juices.
She too is expressing gratitude to the organisers of the programme to which she has been employed since last year.
In the meantime, Pastor Waugh informs that there are plans to expand the project. She is also encouraging other stakeholders to come on board and support the initiative to ensure its sustainability.
Earlier this year, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, called for more local foods to be used in schools. He said the greater utilisation of cultivated crops, particularly fruits and vegetables, would provide a healthy alternative to bag drinks.
Noting that bag drinks could potentially “give children diabetes” before they are fully developed, Mr. Clarke said he is advocating the introduction of more fruit and vegetable juices into the school nutrition programmes.
“We want more use of our otaheite apple, cucumber, melon and mango…all the fruits that we have with fantastic flavours that sometimes go to waste. We want to incorporate those into the school feeding programme, instead of some imported items,” he asserted.
The Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) which initially supported the project is one of the Government’s strategic responses to unemployment among Jamaicans, particularly those in lower socio-economic groups, persons with special needs, as well as those with low skill levels. The brainchild of Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, JEEP has yielded jobs for approximately 37,000 persons since its inception in March 2012.