…as 6 new menus introduced by Education Ministry
Fifty-one food handlers who have been contracted to supply breakfast to schools in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) under the Education Ministry’s school breakfast programme underwent a two-day certification programme at the St Francis Community Developers training building, which concluded on Saturday.
The aim was to enhance the ability of persons who cater for the Ministry of Education breakfast programme for primary schools so that they will be able to prepare a variety of dishes at an elevated standard and with the requisite skills in displaying those dishes.
The training also aimed at ensuring that the initiative is not labelled as a ‘feeding programme’ but rather a nutritional enhancement activity and also to ensure students feel empowered.
The curriculum was produced by St Francis Community Developers, and according to the organisation’s President Alex Foster, it is hoped that the complaints that the Ministry receives will be reduced as a result of the enhanced ability of the caterers to prepare food.
The Guyana Fire Service and the Health Ministry were also incorporated in the training.
The Fire Service focused on providing information on the guidelines needed to be adhered to so as to reduce the risk of fires in the kitchen.
The Health Ministry through its environmental health department focused on the procedure of acquiring updated food handlers’ certificates. The department also focused on the handling and care of food.
Regional Educational Officer Sattish Udit explained that the Government’s breakfast programme is of tremendous benefit to the region, noting that many students arrive at school without having breakfast.
He said that over the past school year, the Education Department in Region Six has received numerous complaints about the service provided as it relates to the breakfast programme.
“That is the quality of the breakfast.”
Udit pointed out that for the new school year, efforts have been made to assist service providers with the skills to provide quality and healthy breakfast for students at the primary level.
Meanwhile, National Programme Coordinator Mahindra Phagwa told the gathering that the training is part of the breakfast programme’s capacity building campaign.
“A part of the Ministry of Education’s agenda is to ensure that all of our caterers are trained and certified in food and nutrition. So as part of the September 2023 to December term, we are introducing six new menus to the grade six classes. So we feel that it is very important that we train these private contractors and caterers on the food and nutrition aspect of these menus so as to reduce the number of complaints that we would receive and to ensure effective and constant delivery of these across not just Region Six but across all the regions.”
There are 51 caterers in the region, each being attached to a specific school. Two of the 53 primary schools in the region; Orealla and Siparuta are not part of the breakfast programme as yet.
According to Phagwa, many of the complaints are based on cultural preferences which are now being taken into consideration.
“Oftentimes the first thing that we think of the nutritional aspect but we also need to be cognisant that these are young students that we are dealing with and so the cultural aspect has to be taken into consideration too.” He noted that all meals will cater for certain religious communities that have eating preferences; namely; Hindus, Muslims and Rastafarians. The meals, he said, are all free of meat. The coordinator said caterers will be monitored while noting that consistency is key. (G4)