Categorized | National News

FAO Partners with Gov’t

With more than 4,000 students in the public school sector going without lunch on a daily basis, and while Operating with a budget of $3.29 million, The Ministry of Education, along with several other government agencies, including the Ministry of Agriculture, launched its National School Lunch Programme during a two-day workshop with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Assistant Director at the Ministry of Education, Sharmaine Sinclair, who is also responsible for Planning and Research, noted that the programme, born out of the Ministry of Social Services, is just one that is used to enhance the

“This program started some years back. Social Services would have been that qualifying agency that would have assessed the households.

“When it came over to education, it was in the context of another programme taking place and we were looking at other social safety net programs that would be in place.  Since this is the main one for our school children, we are holding to that National School Lunch Programme,” Mrs. Sinclair said.

Adding that as a result of wanting better educated students, Mrs. Sinclair said that providing at least one meal will assist students in their learning process.

“Education being the lead on this project, it has become very important to us to ensure that students have access to quality education.

“We believe that providing a nutritious meal, at least one meal for the school day, will allow students, who would not ordinarily have wanted to come to school because they lack that meal, or because there was something that they had in their minds, that they ‘can’t go because I’m hungry’.  This is the opportunity for us now to say to our students that we are at least going to provide that one meal, that you are able to access that opportunity that’s given for education in the country,” Mrs. Sinclair said.

Head of the FAO Mission, Najila Veloso said that the mission’s involvement is to ensure that it is known around the world that it is the rights of school aged children to have food on a daily basis.

“Our expectation is to share our experience in 13 Latin American countries.

“Our idea is to strengthen the school feeding programs, in those countries, and The Bahamas for us is a good possibility to think about.

“In this mission our idea is to think about the actual situation in The Bahamas and to think about the future possibilities to improve the model that you have.

“Our idea is to share experiences to think about new concepts and not about money, but to think about the rights of students to have food all over the world,” Ms. Veloso said.

Public Health Nutritionist, Carmelta Barnes also weighed in on the launch and workshop, noting that a healthy diet is the aim for the National School Lunch Programme.

“The old saying goes, ‘you are what you eat’ and literally it is true. We are made up of what we eat, and we want to ensure that our children are getting the required nutrients that they need.

“We are particularly focusing on the micro-nutrients, those are the vitamins and the minerals. We eat the big ones, we have the starches in the rice, the protein, the meat, but what is happening is we need those other smaller nutrients that actually helps to impact those bigger ones, in the way that improves health.

“That is what we are looking to do;  to make sure that our children are eating healthy foods on a daily basis,” Ms. Barnes added.

The National School Lunch Programme born through the Ministry serves more than 4,000 students a day, including schools scattered throughout 10 Family Islands.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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