The Government of Belize has embarked on an agreement to strengthen School Feeding Programs in Belize in order to provide healthy food to needy school children in our country. This project is more than just a feeding program, a key element in the program is to incorporating agriculture into other areas of study while at the same time, promoting the value of self-grown food.
On Thursday, November 16, 2017, a new cooperation agreement to foster the strengthening of the School Feeding Program in Belize was signed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development and Immigration, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Health and the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation.
The agreement in form of Memorandum of Understanding formalizes the mutual interaction and strengthens the existing relationship between the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, and the Ministry of Health at the strategic and working level, focusing on the development of the School Feeding Programs in Belize.
Belize is one of the five Caribbean countries where the model is currently being piloted, inspired by the Brazilian experience from a similar project. Technical coordination and assistance are provided through a Brazil - Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Technical Cooperation funded-project entitled "Strengthening of School Feeding Programs in Latin America and Caribbean". Activities are funded by the Mexican International Development Cooperation Agency through the FAO-Mexico project entitled "Mesoamerica Sin Hambre ". Activities started in 2016 with coverage of four schools in the communities of Pueblo Viejo, Santa Elena, Santa Cruz and San Antonio in the Toledo District.
The School Feeding Program model that is being promoted within the region goes beyond a conception where the role of the program is limited to just providing meals to poor and vulnerable children. The new model is strongly based on the human right to adequate food approach, also considering the environment, cultural, social and economic sustainability.
It is linked to school gardens and nutrition education, to promote lifelong healthy eating habits for school children and by extension, for their families. It also focuses on the utilization of local products, especially from family farming, promoting the consumption of fresh, local and healthy foods and, at the same time, boosting local production and local job creation and reducing the food import bill.