The Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) wants government to reconsider any decision it may have made to discontinue the school feeding programme as schools hav moved online.
Responding to media reports that Government is considering food cards to replace the school feeding programme, MSJ leader David Abdulah said, “Stopping the school feeding programme is wrong.”
Abdulah said the entire value chain, from the farmers who produce the food that goes into the meals, to the small businesses contracted to do the catering and the workers employed in the food preparation, has been adversely affected by school feeding programme's being shut down from March.
Any decision to discontinue the programme for this school term will hit them very hard, he said.
He said it would "also mean that we are taking a step backwards. Instead of strengthening the agricultural sector and reducing the food import bill we will be doing the opposite. Additionally, the issuing of food cards does not guarantee that the nutritional needs of the children will be met.”
Abdulah recalled the MSJ criticism of government’s decision to replace meals at school with the food cards shortly after the pandemic resulted in the closure of schools, because the distribution was put in the hands of MPs.
“This system proved to be very unfair as the number of food cards was insufficient for the number of families who required it and was open to political favouritism. The food cards were then supplemented by food hampers. Some parents complained that they received neither a food card nor a hamper. “
He said the MSJ, has articulated its position of maintaining and even expanding the school feeding programme in its Roadmap for the Recovery and Changing of TT, which has been made public.
“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.”