Sandals Foundation boosts school feeding programmes
MONTEGO BAY, St James:
More than 150 Sandals staff, guests, and students gathered to plant vegetable gardens at three schools as part of the Sandals Foundation's 2012 Earth Day initiative.
The project, expected to benefit more than 1,500 students at Culloden Early Childhood Institute in Westmoreland, Mount Airy Primary in Hanover, as well as Albion Primary and Junior High School in St James, is part of the foundation's effort to address the demand for nutritious meals in schools in Jamaica.
The foundation's backyard-farming event, which took place last Thursday, came ahead of Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke's recent call for agricultural development through Jamaica's School Feeding Programme, and healthy alternatives to sugary snacks.
"This is a wonderful initiative that will significantly benefit the entire school community. Students now have a greater appreciation of what they can do to sustain our environment," said Maxine Russell, principal of Mount Airy Primary.
Principal of Culloden Early Childhood Institute, Janet Briggs, shared her belief that the vegetable garden at Culloden would benefit the community as the school might be able to sell the crops to parents.
The Sandals Foundation team was divided into groups, which prepared beds and sewed seeds for peppers, thyme, callaloo, mint, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumber, pak choi, and cauliflower. When ready for harvesting, the produce will be used in school meals to ease short-term hunger and increase the attention span among students.
In addition to learning agricultural techniques, students were taught the nutritional benefits of backyard farming through interactive sessions with team members.
"The Albion Primary and Junior High School is very grateful for the partnership," said Lenoval Morle, principal. "Our agriculture programme was struggling, and to have it being resurrected by the Sandals Foundation will surely boost education by encouraging students to be in the field and learn the actual art of farming as a viable career or business."
The vegetable garden project also extends to Antigua, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and The Bahamas.