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May 7, 2013

Ministry gives free food to needy students on south side

A healthy diet helps to keep school children attentive in the classrooms but many families are having a tough time in providing proper and regular meals to their children.  This morning, the Ministry of Education launched the Southside School Meals Program which will provide free meals to needy students. Thirteen schools from the south side of Belize City will be participating in the initiative which will supply a nutritious lunch to primary school children. News Five Jose Sanchez reports.

 

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

The Ministry of Education’s Southside School meals program was officially launched today at the Ministry’s Skills Training Center on Magazine Road.

 

Dr. Candy Armstrong, Ministry of Education

Candy Armstrong

      

“This program marks a milestone in the Ministry of Education goal for a national school feeding program. The Southside school feeding program that is officially being launched here today is a model example of this year’s Education Showcase 2013: “Working together: Stakeholders Partnering to Enhance Education.” The collective and collaborative effort of personnel in the Ministries of Education, Health and Human Development, Social Transformation, and Poverty Alleviation, school managers, principals, parents, teachers students and other community stakeholders have resulted in providing over eleven hundred students in Belize District and Dangriga Town with a delicious nutritious meal every day.”

 

The Minister of Education confirmed that the feeding program is a costly initiative.

 

Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber, Ministry of Education

“We have put half a million dollars in this initiative—this and the one in Dangriga and even the one in Belize River Valley. But we are spending about a half a million dollars in feeding about fifteen hundred students in the Stann Creek and the Belize district. It is our hope to expand this program nationwide so that there is this kind of operation in all districts. Obviously the areas that are highest in poverty are going to be our target areas. The south side of Belize City; the south of this country, we will continue to try to find creative ways to expand the program and ensure that more children are being fed.”

 

Jules Vasquez, Channel 7

“Just looking at a cursory glance, I see these kids drinking juice that I’m sure is mostly sugar, same amount of sugar as soft drinks.”

 

Patrick Faber

“I will tell you Jules that in fact, just now when they asked me I said it is a lot of sugar. I did not know about that and I apologize because indeed we should have had something healthier for them. In the actually school meals program, we have nutritionists in our ministry; we work very closely with the Ministry of Health. The meals that are being given are very nutritious meals. We spent a lot of time and energy to ensure that that is the case. The sugary juices are not what is served in the meals; there is an exception today.”

But Dr. Armstrong spoke of the importance of a healthy meal to performance.

 

Dr. Candy Armstrong

“Healthy students have more potential for learning. Malnourished and unhealthy children perform poorly in school and repeat more classes and drop out of school. Even temporary hunger common in children who are not fed before going to school can have an adverse effect on learning. Iron deficiency and anemia can lead to shorten attention span, irritability, fatigue and difficulty with concentration. There are two school feeding programs in the Belize District. One program serves all students of the Belize Rural Primary School in Belize River Valley. And the other serves selected beneficiaries of thirteen schools on the south-side of Belize City. The meals of the Belize Rural Primary School are being prepared on site at the school cafeteria for three locations: Double Head Cabbage, Flowers Bank and Rancho Dolores. The meals for the students for Bermudian Landing are being prepared offsite and delivered to the school.”

 

Meals for select students that attend thirteen schools in Belize City are prepared at the Skills Training Center on Magazine Road.  And a few more meals were served to the hungry mouths in attendance. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

 

Other initiatives include dental and deworming tablets for some students.

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1 Response for “Ministry gives free food to needy students on south side”

  1. Storm says:

    It’s a worthy use of taxpayer money to help feed malnourished kids, but [1] there needs to be oversight to make sure the meals are actually healthy [was it truly a "once in a lifetime" mistake that the reporter saw kids drinking sugary juices, or does it happen every day?], and [2] since they are asking each taxpayer to buy food for someone else’s child, LET’S MAKE SURE THE PROGRAM IS LIMITED TO THOSE WHO NEED IT!

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