The school feeding initiative under the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) will be implemented in institutions in sections of St. Andrew this month.
The initiative, being executed by the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), seeks to complement the National School Feeding Programme by providing healthy juices and snacks for children utilising locally grown fruits and vegetables.
Speaking to JIS News, RADA Social Services Officer for Kingston and St. Andrew, Brenda Green, explained that the project is the extension of an existing initiative, which will now offer employment.
“This project really …started some time ago (to) train women how to utilize what they grow, how to generate income, and how to feed their families better. So this JEEP (initiative) is providing employment. We are trying to employ 10 persons,” she said.
She stated that the aim is to encourage children to consume more fruits and vegetables, by providing them with nutritious and tasty snack options, and at the same time, support local farmers.
"The objective mainly is to provide nutritious meals focusing on vitamins and minerals. Children have a thing where they don’t like to eat vegetable, they say ‘it nuh taste good’ and so forth, so whatever we are providing we are doing it in such a way that it’s attractive to children,” Ms. Green stated.
Among the items to be provided are bag juices utilizing a blend of vegetables such as tomato, carrot and fruits,” so therefore children like bag juice and they find it easier and more attractive to drink the juice than to actually eat the tomato or eat the carrot,” Ms. Green said.
The juices to be offered initially are plummy pine (tomato and pineapple), plummy carrot (june plum and carrot) and carrot pine (carrot and pineapple). The juices will be changed from time to time as the fruits are seasonal.
Fruit plates, fruit cups and carrot and banana cupcakes will also be provided to the children.
The project will kick off in three primary schools in St. Andrew, namely, New Providence and St. Francis Primary as well as Swallowfield Primary and Junior High.
“Basically, what we are doing now is putting in the infrastructure…and they will require training so that persons will be able to manage whatever machines we have so things can run smoothly,” Ms. Green told JIS News.
She said that while some 10 persons will be employed initially, the number is expected to increase overtime.
JEEP is one of the strategies of the Government to respond to chronic unemployment among some Jamaicans, particularly those in the lower socio-economic groups, persons with special needs, as well as those with low skill levels.
A total of $6 billion has been earmarked for phase two of the programme to be spent on projects in the Ministries of Agriculture and Fisheries, Labour and Social Security, and Housing. Projects will also be executed through HEART Trust/NTA and the National Housing Trust, RADA, among others.
An estimated 35,000 persons will be employed during Phase II of JEEP.