The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports today launched a school feeding program that will benefit students from thirteen schools from Southside Belize City and six in Dangriga Town. According to the Ministry, the program is focused on helping to accomplish one of the strategies outlined in the Belize Education Sector Strategy 2011-2016, “establish and implement a National School Feeding Program that targets the poorest, most vulnerable children and communities.” The target is to reduce the repetition rate by 50% in all districts with no increase in dropout rate. Dr. Candy Armstrong, the Ministry’s director of Education Support Services, outlines what was offered.
Dr. Candy Armstrong – Director of Education Support Services:
The Ministry of Education is currently providing 100% funding for three School meal Programs in two districts – Belize and Stann Creek. A midday meal is provided for all students who are beneficiaries of these programs. In addition, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, students receive de-worming tablets, Vitamin A Supplements, access to dental care and they engage in regular physical activity while they are at school. There are two school feeding programs in the Belize District. One program served all students of the Belize Rural Primary School in Belize River Valley and the other selected beneficiaries of thirteen schools on the Southside of Belize City. The meals for the students at the Belize Rural Primary are being prepared on site at the schools cafeteria for three locations – Double Head Cabbage, Flowers Bank and Rancho Delores. The meals for the students of Bermuda Landing are being prepared off site and delivered to the school. The meals for the Southside School Meals Program are being prepared and packaged here at the Skills Training and delivered to seven hundred selected students from thirteen schools on the Southside of Belize City.
Dangriga’s major schools are also part of the program and a launch is planned for Wednesday there. In his address Minister of Education Patrick Faber paid tribute to pioneers of the program like Belize City philanthropist Joel “Dara” Robinson.
Minister Faber says his Ministry wants to expand the programme nationwide but first need to study the situation, looking especially at high-poverty areas. He also noted the importance of eating healthy.