Hunger in JamaicaHunger in Jamaica has improved tremendously among primary and early childhood students with the various programs and strategies implemented by The Program of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH) and the School Feeding Program (SFP).

The Program of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH) enabled by the Government of Jamaica (GOF) continues to play an integral role in providing free lunches for primary school students with the aim of improving the nutrition of vulnerable children and eradicating hunger in Jamaica with Early Childhood students being the target group.

The Hon. Rev Ronald Thwaites in his presentation of the 2015-2016 sectoral debate revealed the aim of the Ministry of Education to expand the breakfast programs in schools initiated to provide free breakfast for 138,000 students inclusive of PATH beneficiaries.

The Ministry assigned J$2.2 billion towards this program. The SFP in partnership with the Nutrition Products Limited (NPL) breakfast solutions ensures that all meals are made from local agricultural products.

Board Chairman of Nutrition Products Limited James E.D. Rawle gave a synopsis of the various products offered in the NPL Annual Report, “Segments of the Early Childhood Cohort, inclusive of hot solution (porridge), sandwiches, muffins, breads/cakes and an improved juice drink, made utilizing locally produced fruit puree”.

The NPL has provided breakfast solutions to 12,000 designated children located in Kingston & St Andrew, St Thomas, St Catherine and Clarendon each day. This initiative has helped to reduce hunger in Jamaica among students in Primary level institutions.

The SFP provides additional Nutribun snacks for these students in line with the strategy Ministry of Education to spend approximately 20 percent of the school feeding budget of J$4.6 billion on locally grown produces. The Ministry intends to achieve 50 percent in three years.

The Hon. Rev Ronald Thwaites revealed that 40 percent of children lack of proper nutrition and another 30 percent experience hunger on a daily basis.

“Providing nutrition in schools is adding value to the lives of our young children and the brightening of their prospects,” said Thwaites. This step towards improving the nutrition of Early Childhood students via proper victuals is a resourceful means by the GOF to improve hunger In Jamaica.

Shanique Wright

Photo: Flickr