Minister of Education and Youth, Fayval Williams, has said that for the current fiscal year, the Ministry is aiming to feed 180,171 students through the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).
“The Government continues to provide support for the children from our most vulnerable households through PATH,” she said, noting that the number of feeding days for the academic year will remain at 190 days, which is the number of school days in the academic year.
Williams was delivering her presentation in the 2023/24 Sectoral Debate on Wednesday (May 17) in the House of Representatives.
The Minister provided the breakdown noting the following appropriations:
|Institutions||Number of Students|
|ECC Institutions and Brain Builders Centres||43,000|
|Infants up to grade three at the Primary level||35,000|
|Primary, All Age, and Primary and Junior High Schools up to grade nine||34,371|
|Wards of the State||2,800|
In addition to the target of feeding 180,171 students this year, there has also been an increase in the rates given to the schools at all levels:
For the Nutrition Support Subsidies for the Traditional Cooked Lunch Programme, the new rates when compared to the previous rate may be seen in the table below.
|Students||Prior allocation per meal||Current allocation per meal|
|Infants (Grades 1-3||$120||$150|
|Primary, All Age, and Primary and Junior High Schools||$150||$200|
|Brain Builders Centres||$40||$100|
Williams states that the increase took effect on April 1 and that schools schools will see the increase reflected in their accounts “once the scheduled tranches of the grants are paid to schools”.
“School administrators are reminded that the funding is disbursed to the schools to provide cooked lunches for students on the basis that once meals are prepared in large quantities, the schools will reap the benefits of economy of scale,” she said.
“Further, the meals for the students on the PATH are not to be provided at a profit margin and therefore should not be aligned to the cost that is charged for the regular lunches which are generally priced with a profit margin, even though minimal, at the school level,” she added.
Increase in budgetary allocation
The Minister said that the amount per child may look small but “the quantum of what the government is providing is $8.9 billion.”
“This represents an increase of $2 billion over the prior year. This money is to provide cooked lunch at schools. While Nutrition Products Limited will continue to provide the breakfast and snack component of the school feeding programme,” she said.
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