Wednesday 23 September, 2020

MSJ tells Gov’t: Don’t stop School Feeding Programme

The Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) is calling on the Government to continue the School Feeding Programme despite distanced learning which has been implemented to stem the spread of COVID-19.

In a statement, the MSJ said it did not believe the Government should stop the initiative.

“We make this call following a media report yesterday through which the public was informed that the Government is considering the use of food cards to replace the School Feeding Programme. Stopping the School Feeding Programme is wrong!”

According to the political party, the stoppage of the School Feeding Programme will have a ripple effect throughout various sectors of the country.

“The value chain from the farmers who produce the food that goes into the meals, to the small businesses who are contracted to do the catering and the workers employed in the food preparation have been adversely affected by the shutting down of the school feeding programme from March. A decision to discontinue the programme for this school term will hit these persons very hard.”

The MSJ said this is a step backward as this will not aid in the reduction of the food import bill or strengthen the agricultural sector. Instead, it will do the opposite.

Furthermore, the group said the issuing of food cards does not guarantee the nutritional needs of children are met.

Recalling the distribution of food cards to families after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting closure of schools, the MSJ reminded that it found the approach to be unfair. This, as it said the cards were insufficient and open to political favoritism since it was given to Members of Parliament for distribution.

The party added that the food cards were supplemented by food hampers though some parents complained that they received neither food card nor hamper.

“The MSJ’s position of maintaining and even expanding the school feeding programme was articulated by us very early in the pandemic. We restated this in our Roadmap for the Recovery and Changing of Trinidad and Tobago, which was made public in the first week of May. We therefore once again call on the Government to restart the programme. The issue of delivery of the meals is a logistical problem that can be solved. The use of apps, the accessibility of schools and community centres as distribution points and the utilisation of persons who would normally be transporting school children but who are now without an income, all point to possible solutions for the delivery of the meals.”

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