October 18, 2018:
Contrary to media reports, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information is providing snacks through Nutrition Products Limited (NPL) for students on PATH in all 14 parishes across the island and not only schools in the urban areas.
The Ministry is also emphasizing that no directive has been sent to any of our schools indicating that the MannaPacks should be a replacement for the nutri-bun, bullas and fruit juices. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information is aware of schools being in receipt of MannaPacks from NPL. However, these MannaPaks are not a substitute for the nutritional support that the Ministry provides to the schools through NPL.
In fact, there was a one-off donation of MannaPacks to the Ministry by a charitable organization in the latter part of the last school year. The Ministry decided to share the commodity with all of our primary schools including St. Mary’s All-Age which was the subject of recent reports.
In promoting a healthier lifestyle among our children and based on a survey conducted in the 2017-2018 school year, the results showed that students were not desirous of the products being offered by NPL. With this in mind, the Ministry had decided to take on a new approach in providing more nutritious snacks for our students and in keeping with the strategic direction of the School Feeding Programme.
St. Mary’s All-Age has been included in the breakfast and snacks programme provided by NPL over the past four years and has received funding (nutritional support) for this term in the usual manner to provide adequately as is the case with all the other schools for students on the School Feeding Programme. The Ministry will continue to make the necessary provisions for our students who are the most vulnerable in our schools.
We are working assiduously to finalize our National School Nutrition Policy and we are feeding our children with lunches five days per week. We have provided our schools with recipe manuals, provided training for our cooks and canteen operators, employed additional cooks in our schools, and have been having dialogue with schools administrators and concessionaires.
Most of our schools which were already on the support programme from NPL continue to receive the support. These are schools that have been recommended for such support - either by the schools themselves making a request through their regional offices or other criteria. However, schools that are in dire need of the support may contact the Ministry. To date, the Ministry has not received any such request from St. Mary’s All-Age School.