The capacity of three schools in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to provide meals for their students has been enhanced, thanks to the receipt of a quantity of equipment handed over last Monday.
The Buccament, Diamond, and Brighton Government Schools received the equipment, under the Sustainable Schools Project as part of the zero hunger challenge initiative.
The equipment and appliances include stoves, refrigerators and vital kitchen utensils geared at aiding food preparation.
The menu for each school is revised and recipes are standardised.
The items handed over, came through the combined efforts of the government and people of Brazil, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), IICA in conjunction with the Rural Transformation Unit within the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour.
Minister of Agriculture, Saboto Caesar expressed elation at such a significant undertaking.
He pointed out that the handing over ceremony is as a result of years of hard work, dedication and perseverance.
“Whilst the genesis of the School Feeding Programme has many years to it, we will all agree that since 2014, when this country took on that stride to zero hunger, that we have seen the school feeding programme grow by leaps and bounds,” the minister said.
He encouraged staff to take care of the equipment and appliances provided.
FAO correspondent, Coleen Phillips, said the sustainable school feeding programme will have a positive impact, such as the lowering of cost in child maintenance and increasing their propensity to lead healthier, productive lives.
Highlighting the theme of World Food Day this year — “Our actions are our future”, Phillips said this is fundamental in determining what future the society will have.
Phillips further encouraged the children to eat the meals provided or share with a friend in need.
Senior Education Officer, Jocelyn Blake-Browne said: “The Ministry of Education is grateful for the help received from the Brazilian government, FAO and the Technical support from the Ministry of Agriculture.” Blake-Browne said the Ministry of Education is “concerned about the holistic development of all students”, adding that “being fed properly” is high on the ministry’s mandate.
The education officials said that by eating these meals, children will be promoting local farming.
Chairperson of the committee of the Sustainable School Feeding Project, Currel Thompson-Fergus recognised the members of the implementation committee. Thompson-Fergus stressed that the aim of this programme is to strengthen the school feeding programme in SVG and revealed that SVG is one of four eastern Caribbean countries piloting the project.
The chairperson also emphasised that this country is “way ahead”.
Principal of the Buccament Government School, Carmie Williams, thanked the Zero Hunger Initiative for its efforts.
Williams noted that the new meal plans are more nutritious.
She said the next phase of this project will include a school garden, which will not just be used to feed the children but as part of an integrated educational approach for the children.
The project commenced in 2016 with an assessment of 396 students to acquire the exact nutritional needs of these students within the selected schools. This process was initiated at a cost of EC$3,000.