St Catherine councillors at odds over school-feeding programme
People's National Party councillors at the St Catherine Municipal Corporation have decried the removal by the Government of nutribun, nutribullas, and fruit juice from the primary school feeding programme and replacing them with the MannaPack Rice from the United States.
Councillor for the Above Rocks division, Roojae Kirlew, who raised the issue, accused the Government of disrespecting the parents and students who once relied on the nutri products as a vital part of their nutrition.
"The Government has removed the nutri products from the school-feeding programme and has replaced them with MannaPack Rice made in the USA," Kirlew disclosed, while contending that the product is a gift to the Government and should not be used as a replacement.
"It should be pulled from the schools now!" Kirlew stated, while expressing his indignation at a writing on the box containing the packages of rice that said, 'feed my starving children'. "This is an insult to us as teachers and parents," the councillor, who in addition to his municipal duties is also the principal of the Above Rocks Primary and Junior High School, continued.
He said the Government should refer to the recommendations contained in the 2004 task force on school feeding and implement them to come up with a comprehensive school-feeding programme.
Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Councillor William Cytall challenged Kirlew on his command of the facts, pointing to the nutritional contents displayed on the MannaPak Rice package as evidence that there is more nutrition to be had from the rice.
"Mr Chairman, I will say that if there is a controversy over the removal of the nutribun, bullas and fruit juice from the schools, then there should be a cry for the balancing of the distribution of both products, since they all have nutritional value," Cytall observed.
George Moodie, JLP councillor for the Ensom City division, offered an alternative path to self-reliance, calling on school administrators to adopt self-help strategies by partnering with parent-teacher associations and past students bodies to develop a feeding programme for their schools.
"I am in support of a national school-feeding programme, but the idea that it has to be spearheaded by the Government is a totally different situation. School administrators should develop creative ways to sustain a school-feeding programme," Moodie said.