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Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw, says the Government has taken action to increase the variety of local fresh fruits and vegetables under the National School Feeding Programme.

In that regard, the Minister noted that the programme’s budgetary allocation was increased to $4.7 billion for the 2018/19 fiscal year, an increase of 47 per cent.

Speaking at the official launch of ‘Mission Food Possible’, at the St. John’s Primary School, in St. Catherine, on February 1, the Minister  said the undertaking is a collaborative one between his Ministry and the Education, Youth and Information Ministry.

Support for the programme is also being provided through initiatives from the Ministry of Health to encourage better eating habits as well as encouraging students to exercise more.

“My Ministry is expected to play a supportive role in the production and supply logistics of primary and secondary products. We can all agree that our School Feeding Programme has the ability to improve the health and education of our children, while supporting our farmers and our local economy,” Mr. Shaw said.

“Our mission is to promote proper nutrition and improve the learning outcomes of our children as well as to strengthen early childhood development in keeping with the Food and Nutrition Security policy, the draft School Feeding Policy and the Jamaica Social Protection Strategy,” the Minister added.

Mr. Shaw said Jamaica must move away from the importation of genetically modified food to the consumption and utilisation of more locally grown foods, which will lead to a better life for all.

The Minister argued that the launching of the Mission Food Possible initiative represents the perfect opportunity to teach children to  “eat what we grow.”

Mr. Shaw  said he intends to work with New York-based Jamaican chef, Peter Ivey, who conceptualised and founded the initiative, to have it rolled out in schools across the island.

First executed in St. Catherine in October 2017, Mission Food Possible fed approximately 700 people.

The initiative, which seeks to combat global hunger and food insecurity by using locally grown products to make creative, nutritious and low budget meals also led to the training of staff, parents and teachers at St. John’s Primary School the following October.

For his part, Mr. Ivey explained that his initiative is undergirded by a personal mission to feed people who are in need.

Meanwhile, Principal of the school, Louise Clarke, described the initiative as “awesome,” noting that it has the support of the school community and Board.

She thanked Mr. Ivey for the programme, which will go away far way in assisting the students who are in need.