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Oct 30, 2006

Taiwan helps feeding programme with dried fruits

Story PictureIt’s a sad reality that many of our nation’s students go to school with empty bellies. To combat that fact a number of institutions have established feeding programmes and a new initiative launched today should be a welcome addition. News Five’s Janelle Chanona reports.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
This morning, the boys and girls of St. Luke?s primary school became the first students to benefit from the latest initiative between Belize and Taiwan.

It?s called the Dehydrated Tropical Fruit Initiative for the School Meal Program. The idea is to combine local fruits like bananas, pineapples, and papayas with Taiwanese expertise to create ?healthy snacks for healthy living?.

Sandra Hall, Chair, National Committee for Families and Children
?We are saying you have the right to come to school and to learn, but you can?t learn if you are hungry. Can you??

Children
?No!?

Sandra Hall
?I thought not. You have to be fed nutritious food.?

Local producers have committed to sending excess fruit to the Taiwanese dehydration facility in Central Farm. From there, government will distribute the finished product to more than eight thousand needy preschool and primary school students. And today the snacks got an A+ …. even if it took a little work.

Janelle Chanona
?You could open it??

Student
?Miss. This hard fu open.?

Janelle Chanona
?Eat the thing! How it taste??

Student
?Nice.?

Janelle Chanona
?What it taste like??

Student
?Banana.?

Janelle Chanona
?How it taste??

Student
?Nice!?

Sandra Collins, Technical Advisor, Nutrition
?I don?t think that our children are familiar with dried fruit, other than raisins or prunes. I think it?ll take time for them to adjust to it and you know we?ll work with it right along. It?s just a snack to augment, to compliment what they get in a meal. Generally children don?t sit and eat one meal. They eat a lot in between and so forth, so this is to keep them going.?

And according to the government ministers, improvements to the initiative will be ongoing.

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education
?But what we will be providing to them is, to compliment the dehydrated fruit, is also a milk pouch, that will provide them with milk in the morning, to start the day as well as a nutritious cookie or bun. On some days it will be a cookie, two cookies in a pack and other days it will be a nutritious bun. We want to ensure that every child who goes to school, has an opportunity to start the day with a proper, healthy, nutritious meal for the morning.?

Vildo Marin, Minister of Agriculture
?Like the people who produce the papayas for exports, Fruta Bomba, they are giving the fruits for free. The banana companies, they are also giving the bananas for free and very soon, if we can get other farmers to donate the produce that they would otherwise be throwing away so that we can dehydrate them. So that we can put some mangoes for example, and some other fruits in that package that we will be giving to you.?

The generosity of Belize?s best friend is also expected to continue in the classroom.

Joseph Ting Shih, Taiwanese Ambassador to Belize
?It takes time and it takes effort. But I think the important thing is that Belize is blessed with abundant natural resources. Taiwan is good at turning many resources into business opportunities. Taiwan nowadays, we are the third largest computer manufacturing country so apart from these agricultural projects I want to bring maybe, sometime, that we bring computer programmes to each school of the country.?

The snacks are expected to compliment other feeding programs already established in schools countrywide. But to emphasize the importance of fruits and vegetables, today government highlighted another initiative: urban agriculture.

Vildo Marin
?When we think about agriculture, we think about this lotta land inna rural areas but we can–you all can grow your own fruits and vegetables inna your own backyard. So that will be the next project which we in the Ministry of Agriculture will be embarking on.?

To kick off that project, today the Ministry of Agriculture handed over five papaya plants for St. Luke?s garden.

Reporting for News Five, I am Janelle Chanona.

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