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Jun 29, 2000

School gets kitchen for feeding program

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It’s one thing to crave a good meal, but it’s a crime when a child goes to school with an empty belly and even less to look forward to for lunch. There are children like that in Belize and it’s a problem several schools have tried to remedy by initiating feeding programs. At the Buttonwood Bay Nazarene Primary School, one such program was desperately needed and as you will see in this next story, even when it seemed like it would never happen, the teachers and principal refused to give up on their kids.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

In 1992, The Buttonwood Bay Nazarene Primary School opened its doors to serve the growing community of the Buttonwood Bay area. But today the institution is also providing education for children from across Belize City, especially boys and girls from the Southside. Most of the students come to school hungry and it has affected the children’s performance and the school’s morale. Unfortunately, attempts by the school to improve the situation had all failed. It seemed the business community had decided not to support the school.

Lennox Tillett, Principal, B.B.N.P.S

“I looked at the situation carefully and as I thought, I had sent letters to business establishments and other places and we have always been put on the back burner. I tried to find out what was the reason for not getting donation at the school. As I examined it and I heard other schools getting donations, I said to myself what could be the problem? Then I realized, if I was a person out there in the business community and I had a child in a particular school and my business was able to help a particular school, if I had a choice I would help the school where my child was going. So because we didn’t have children from affluent homes coming to this particular school, when you asked the business community to help, their priority would have been other schools.”

In 1998, the school decided to launch a feeding program on its own and was in need of a kitchen. Due to the lack of space, the classrooms had to be used for cooking food. Obviously this created a number of problems.

Roger Bradley, Technical Officer, Social Investment Fund

“The gas tank and the stove were actually in a classroom and the refrigerator was actually in another classroom and we felt that this was very dangerous. We also felt that it was very tempting because when a child around 11 o’clock starts smelling food it will distract him from actually learning, so we felt that it was something that was needed.”

While the school continued to appeal to the business community for help, they did not get the assistance they desperately needed. However the school’s management was determined not to give up hope and approached the Social Investment Fund. Today, thanks to SIF, the World Bank and the Government of Belize, the school now has a new kitchen, a principal’s office and a new bathroom.

Roger Bradley

“Well, we decided to fund this project because we felt it was a very serious need in this area. This school even though it is in the Buttonwood Bay area actually caters to children in some of the poorer areas of the Southside of the city. These are some of the most disadvantaged children that are around and many of these children actually come to school without a proper meal. And we also observed that Mister Tillett, the principal did not really have anywhere to have private meetings with parents or anything like that. He had a classroom, but there were children there making noise. So we believe with a principal’s office, he will be able to conduct his business on a private basis and with the teachers toilet it will provide more convenience for them.”

The project cost $26,500. Over a thousand dollars of that money was donated by the school itself through fundraising endeavors. The school would like to give special thanks to the Three Amigos restaurant, which has been the donating groceries and other items to the school’s feeding programme.

If you would like to assist in the Buttonwood Bay Nazarene Primary School’s feeding program, please contact principal Lennox Tillett.

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