Cabinet approved proposals for the expansion of the School Feeding and Nutrition Programme through immediate intervention in the Belize, Stann Creek and Toledo Districts, and directed a steering committee comprising staff from the Ministries of Education, Health and Agriculture to present a budget for the long-term plan to establish and implement a national programme.

95 of Belize’s 282 primary schools have some form of school feeding nutrition programme, with approximately 10,202 students in five districts participating at a nominal cost of $1 per cooked meal. Some needy children are provided with meals at no cost. Where this programme exists and is successful, the programme will continue. However, the steering committee has recommended and Cabinet has agreed that instead of providing cooked meals for children in schools where the programme does not exist, healthy snacks should be provided to the children. This would include fruits such as oranges, bananas and papayas, along with milk.

The services of the local citrus, banana and papaya industries will be contracted to provide ripened fruits to the schools two or three times a week. Hands for the Needy will also be requested to increase its supply of milk to the Ministry of Education to enable all children in the districts to be provided with a daily supply of milk.

In the longer term, Cabinet has decided to introduce a sustainable programme countrywide to provide healthy snacks to all primary school children to improve their nutritional status.