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JIS News

KINGSTON — Children  attending schools  that are benefitting from the Government's School Feeding Programme should have a healthy start  to the new school year in September.

Contracts have been approved  for the supply of  long  grain rice, cornmeal, counter flour,  vegetable oil,  corned beef  and tinned mackerel for the cooked food component, while  funds have been allocated to Nutrition Products Limited for the supply  of snacks , comprising  a baked bun (nutribun) and milk or flavoured drink.

The School Feeding Programme has two components – cooked lunches, which are  prepared at the schools,  and  snacks, which  are prepared and delivered to schools.

For the 2011/12 Financial Year, the Government has allocated some  $2.5 billion for the School Feeding Programme (SFP).            

Of  the sum, Nutrition Products will get $709 million to provide meals for over 136,000 beneficiaries, and the Early Childhood Commission has received $42 million for its nutrition subsidy for basic school students.

In an interview with JIS News, Director of the School Feeding Programme, Helen Robertson said that all government schools, with the exception of some high and technical schools, have at least one component of the programme. Private schools that have PATH beneficiaries also receive nutritional support. 

“With some 220,000 students on the PATH programme, the schools are doing some magical things to make sure that the children are fed on a daily basis.  They are doing their best based on the resources allocated to provide a meal,” Ms. Robertson said.

She  pointed out  that the grants which are given to support the cooked meal component will  be transferred to the schools. “We are prepared and working for the re-opening of schools,” she asserted.

The objectives of the programme are to: encourage regular school attendance; alleviate hunger; enhance the learning capacity of the students by providing a meal or a snack; educate children on the value of food through nutrition education classes; and to encourage the children to grow their own food by establishing and supporting school gardens. 

Meanwhile, there has been positive feedback for the programme from schools and other stakeholders.

According to Ms. Robertson,  information from Principals and teachers  is that when the programme is up and running, attendance increases.                                       

By JUDITH A. HUNTER, JIS PR Officer