A more sustainable School Feeding Programme plugged for Guyana

DPI/GINA, GUYANA, Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Development partner agency the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has engaged government officials with the ultimate goal of having a sustainable School Feeding Programme developed and incorporated into government policy.

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Representative to Guyana, Rueben Robertson, making his presentation about a Sustainable School Feeding Program

A sustainable School Feeding Programme should offer healthy food in adequate quantity and quality, using fresh products in accordance with the culture and local food preference. This will extensively allow for optimization of the growth, development and health of the students. The development of appropriate menues is one of the critical elements in this process.

The FAO hosted a ministerial discussion with these attendees looking at Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable School feeding in Guyana where various government ministries were represented by their ministers and senior officials.

Based on a presentation by FAO’s country representative, Rueben Robertson, school feeding should be a multi-sectoral policy programme, which will allow Guyana to achieve goals in various strategic areas such as education, public health, agriculture, social protection, social cohesion and business.

“We have the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and we are speaking about focusing on what we call the five P’s (Planet, People, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership). So sustainable school feeding nutrition programmes and SDGs are important components of countries social policy and could contribute directly to the eradication of poverty.” Robertson explained.

Ministers of Public Health, Agriculture, Social Protection and Social Cohesion all voiced their concerns about the factors to be taken into consideration in moving forward with such an initiative.  The ministers all supported the idea of a Sustainable School Feeding programme and vowed to work towards making the initiative a government policy.

Robertson’s presentation highlighted that it is a fundamental right for every citizen to have access to food as recognised by the United Nations. He said that School Feeding can be the core of government’s policies to eliminate hunger countrywide.

“Why are nutrition sensitive interventions important at schools? this is where we want to ground the sustainable School Feeding having

The gathering of ministers and other ministerial representatives at the meeting for a Sustainable School Feeding Program

looked at the challenges some of the opportunities, what we have committed ourselves to and the multi-disciplinary inter-sectoral, multi-dimensional nature. We want to see how School Feeding really fits into all of this and we are saying here that malnutrition is a global challenge and in Guyana undernourishment is greater than ten per cent.” The FAO Representative said.

Representatives from the Ministry of Education outlined that there are at least five activities executed by the ministry under it school feeding programme. This programme currently provides one healthy meal for at least 22,000 students in 158 schools across Guyana.

These activities include the Breakfast programme, the juice and biscuit for students along the coastland areas, the Dora feeding programme on the Linden, Soesdyke Highway, the peanut butter and cassava bread programme in Region Nine and the community based school feeding programme in Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine.

The Ministers of Public Health indicated that the ministry will remain committed to ensure that the quality of meals provided are healthy and are of the right standard which will guarantee total health of children. Meanwhile, work is continuing to have Food Based Dietary Guidelines (FBDG) which will promote a balanced diet, represented by the six food groups staples, vegetables, fruits, legumes, animals and fats.

Some of the benefits of a sustainable school feeding programme include stronger inter-sectoral co-ordination, development of children’s cognitive skills, encourages at least one healthy meal, promotion of domestic food systems, job creation, elimination of hunger and most importantly poverty reduction.

 

By: Delicia Haynes

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