Feeding the multitude
Education Minister Ronald Thwaites said that he was amazed by how school officials are able to provide meals to needy students for an entire week, when the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) is designed to feed them for only three days.
Thwaites was addressing principals, chairmen of various school boards, parent-teacher associations presidents, and other stakeholders at a Region Two meeting at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education in Portland last week Friday.
"It is commendable on the part of principals, teachers, and the kitchen staff," he said. "I have been told that 50 per cent of all students in Region Two are a part of the PATH programme. Schools are able to provide lunch, some dietary, for students every day of the week, even though the PATH subsidy is only for three days. It is important to note that the PATH subsidy is at a contentious 50-something dollars. This can't work. My own impression as an inner-city member of parliament is that we have to use whatever means we have at our disposal to change all of that."
The school-feeding programme was implemented to allow students in school one-third of the daily nutrition requirements, but according to the minister, it does not necessarily coincide with the reality, that it is probably the only meal available to the child for the entire day.
One of the drawbacks to the programme, which was pointed out by school administrators, is that for many students who travel long distances to get to school, the dietary provisions offered is good, but still insufficient.
The minister added, "We have to move our children away from this Cheese Trix and bag juice culture, into something substantial, into dietary and nutritional habits that will be able to carry them for the remainder of their lives."