Sixteen cooks, drawn from eight primary schools in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), will from Feb. 16 to March 10, participate in specialised training in food preparation and handling.
Over the eight days of training, the participants will learn how to deliberately incorporate locally grown produce into menus in the School Feeding Programme (SFP).
The training is part of a wider initiative by the Government of SVG, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), with support from the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID), and CARICOM.
The training aims to build capacity for enhanced agricultural production, while at the same time, encouraging healthy eating as a means of addressing obesity and undernourishment in the country, the FAO says.
Renata Clarke, FAO Caribbean Sub-regional Coordinator said the training “demonstrates the important role of cooks in improving nutrition in schools and also how we can use fresh locally grown produce that not only please the palate but promote lifelong healthy eating habits in our children”.
The training programme will incorporate the recently adopted Food Based Dietary Guidelines, and participants will learn about nutrition standards for school-aged children, food safety standards, menu planning, in addition to the practical cooking training sessions.
The recently revamped menus are being used in all primary schools that participate in the SFP, but the 1,150 students from the eight participating schools are immediate beneficiaries. The schools are Fair Hall Primary, Gomea Methodist, Cane End Government, New Grounds Primary, Spring Village Methodist, Argyle Primary, Barrouallie Anglican and the Paget Farm Government.
The Chief Nutritionist at the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment, Nicole France, had this to say “we at the Nutrition Unit are quite pleased to be a part of this initiative, as the overarching objective of this project is highlighted in not just one, but three of our messages in the recently updated Dietary Guidelines:
#1 Eat a variety of natural foods from each food group daily.
#2 Include local fruits and vegetables in every meal, and
#8 Practice growing and eating local foods.
The FAO says the AMEXCID Project has offered a stepping stone in getting school children, and by extension, their households, to incorporate local foods into their diets as a means of healthy eating.
The training will be conducted by consultant Nutritionist with the FAO, Joyce Burgin, under the guidance of the Ministry of Health and the Environment, with support from the Ministry of Education.