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New foundation targets 10,000 for school-feeding programme in Clarendon

Published:Thursday | April 26, 2018 | 12:00 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston

A recently formed charity, the Jamaica Rural Youth Foundation (JRYF), is aiming to feed more than 10,000 students on a daily basis through its 'Breakfast Club' programme.

The intention is to use sustainable methods to start and maintain that vision by establishing school gardens with non-traditional farming methods.

Founder and programme director, Melanie Wynter, said with the realisation that Jamaica cannot depend on the government to solve all the problems, the foundation is on a drive to make a difference in the lives of students who need it most.

According to Wynter, a hatchery will also be established as part of the project, where schools will be given two chickens and a coop.

"Schools will receive training on farm maintenance, monitoring and evaluation of the garden as well as given initial resources for farm inputs. The yields from these gardens will go into the schools' breakfast-feeding programmes," said Wynter, as she noted that the programme will kick-start with Roswell Primary School.

"The project will target schools using several factors, including location, demography of the student population, affiliation, receptive to JRYF, willingness to help themselves, and schools on the verge of closing due to low attendance and under-performance," added Wynter.

Sharing the vision of the JRFY is youth empowerment officer Chevelle Campbell, who has a passion for the improvement in the lives of young Jamaicans.

"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It is for this reason that we are providing the tools necessary for schools to grow their own food to supplement their breakfast-feeding programme," said Campbell.

Armed with data that show many of Jamaica's children are attending schools without a meal or not going at all, because of parents' inability to provide lunch or money for lunch, the foundation's goal is to help eliminate these conditions.

The push is also for healthier eating habits, and the school-feeding programme will ensure that.

Partners already on board with the JRFY include the Rotary Foundation, the Rotary Club of May Pen, and the Jamaica Diaspora Association of Atlanta.

"The journey has just began, so we seek partners to scale pass 10,000 as rural primary schools are in need of meal assistance," said Wynter.