JIS News

The Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions is showing a near 11 per cent increase in the number of children who benefited from the Ministry of Education’s School Feeding Program (SFP) in 2008, compared to 2007.
The SFP, which forms an integral part of the Ministry’s Welfare Program, assists in improving the nutritional status of students through the provision of meals.
Jointly researched and published by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), the Survey indicates that the SFP’s components, the nutrition and milk/drink, and the traditional cooked lunch program, assisted in facilitating regular school attendance and enhancing the students’ learning capacity.
In this regard, the Survey’s findings show that 80.5 per cent of students benefited in 2008, up from 69.6 per cent in 2007. Contextually, the Report notes that this was a marked improvement, compared with the initial 31.8 per cent participation rate recorded when the program commenced in 1994. According to the Report, the highest level of participation, 88.2 per cent, was recorded by students in All-Age, and Primary and Junior High Schools (Grades 1-6), followed by students at the Primary level with 81.5 per cent, and students in All-Age schools (Grades 7 -9) – 78.7 per cent. The lowest levels of participation were recorded for students attending Technical High Schools, and Primary and Junior High Schools (Grades 7-9), with approximately 75 per cent.
Geographically, the findings revealed that students in rural areas showed greater inclination to participate in the SFP, manifested through the 84.3 per cent figure recorded, compared with 75.6 per cent for their counterparts in the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA), and 77.7 per cent for other towns.
The traditional cooked lunch program continued to account for the major share of beneficiaries, growing to 60.0 per cent of school children, compared with 46.2 per cent in 2007. The number of students benefiting from the nutrition and milk program fell from 7.3 per cent in 2007 to 5.0 per cent in 2008, with some 15.5 per cent of the students benefiting from both. The Survey suggests that the growth in the cohort beneficiaries may be attributable to the Government’s decision to increase the number of students participating, which partly underpinned increased benefits under the Program of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH).