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Nov 16, 2017

Food Security Programs Implemented in Southern Schools

An initiative to strengthen food security programs has been ongoing since April 2016. Phase three of that project which involves its implementation stage was launched today in Belmopan between the Government, Mexico and the Food and Agriculture Organization. The project extends to other Central American countries. In Belize, four Roman Catholic Schools will benefit, namely, San Francisco de Jeronimo, Santa Elena, Santa Cruz, and San Luis all located in rural communities in southern Belize.  News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

A project to improve food and nutrition security and encourage healthy eating habits for communities in southern Belize was officially launched today during a ceremony at the Conference Room on the National Agriculture and Trade Show Grounds at the entrance of Belmopan. It is part of the ‘Mesoamerica Without Hunger’ initiative where Mexico is providing financial and technical support from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations by strengthening the school feeding program. The project extends across the region to also include Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and the Dominican Republic.

 

Jose Alpuche

Jose Alpuche, C.E.O., Ministry of Agriculture

“This is actually, I would want to characterize it as stage three of a process that started some time ago. The Ministry of Agriculture had ventured into uncharted waters in Jalacte; in conjunction with BAHA and others to establish a checkpoint. Of course we encountered some push back, but more so we encountered people that actually welcomed the intervention of the ministry and asked us to intervene in other areas; areas that we had not necessarily had the expertise, but that we quickly agreed to that we would help. One of them was developing of school gardens and to assist in the school feeding program.”

 

But the school garden program, by the Ministry of Agriculture, has evolved to more than just that. The Mexican Government, through Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID), and in collaboration with the Ministries of Education and Health began building a structure for rural school feeding programs.

 

Carlos Quesnel

Carlos Quesnel, Mexican Ambassador to Belize

“On April 2016, we launched the Mesoamerican Hunger Free Program in Belize with the main objective of strengthening the school feeding program in four communities of the Toledo district through offering adequate and healthy school meals, the implementation of education school gatherings; the improvements of kitchen dining areas, storage and the direct purchase of products from local farmers for school means. Today, thanks to the joint work of Ministry of Agriculture, the technical support of FAO and the funds of AMEXCID, it has been possible to achieve important milestones such as the construction of three cafeterias in Santa Elena, Santa Cruz and San Antonio schools, each one with open and covered structure school gardens.”

 

Jorge Gonzalez

Jorge Gonzalez, FAO Representative

“FAO in collaboration with Country Government International Cooperation boast that sustainable school initiative based on a Brazilian model is based in more than fourteen countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

 

Aside from the schools garden which promotes healthy eating habits, a monitoring and evaluation component is included in the school feeding program. C.E.O. in the Ministry of Health, Doctor Ramon Figueroa says it is a great investment.

 

Ramon Figueroa

Dr. Ramon Figueroa, C.E.O., Ministry of Health

“I am totally convinced that the children are the future of this nation; the ability to develop their full potential will determine the potential for Belize to also develop. And full development is dependent on the health and education of each children. It has been proven that without proper nutrients, without healthy foods, children cannot learn properly. And this is not fake news; this is a scientific truth.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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