School Meals Department facing challenges
THIS country’s tough economic conditions are continuing to have some impact on the School Meals Department (SMD), which administers lunches daily for primary school students and some with special issues at the secondary schools.
Yesterday Ms. Dawn Browne, the Acting Manager of the School Meals Department, put the issues in perspective while responding to a query from Opposition Leader, Bishop Joseph Atherley, during consideration of the 2020/2021 Appropriations Bill.
Bishop Atherley had queried the $19 million transfer to the Department as outlined in the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for next year. He said that he also got the impression that some of the agencies and entities involved had recognised the financial constraints.
Ms. Browne, in response, said that as far as the SMD is concerned, they have had to make changes in the menu in relation to the nutritional quality of the foods served to the children.
According to her, the Department has had to use more locally produced items by getting supplies from the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC).
She said that those supplies from the BADMC were more nutritious and that it meant reducing the volume of imported items used in the school feeding programme.
Those imported supplies were sourced through the tendering process, Ms. Browne added.
The Estimates show a small reduction in the allocations for the Department for next financial year. They have moved from $22.5 million this current year to $20.3 million for the coming year.
Personal emoluments will fall from $12.1 million currently, to $10.6 million. No new vehicles will be made available next year for the Department, and supplies and materials used in the school feeding programme have been slashed from the current year’s allocations of $7.1 million to $6.1 million next year, according to the Draft Estimates.
However, machinery and equipment will absorb just under $400,000 and whereas this year the bill for travel was given as $35,000, it will be lowered to $30,000 next year. (JB)