A new cafeteria is set to benefit students of the Trafalgar Primary School soon. Students will have access to safe, healthy meals and an improved learning environment.
Japanese Ambassador to Dominica, His Excellency Yoshimasa Tezuka and principal of the Trafalgar Primary School, Doreen Watt signed the U.S. $36,000 contract for the school cafeteria on Thursday.
Students, parents and staff of the school were told by Hon. Dr. Colin McIntyre, Parliamentary Representative for the area, to use the cafeteria as a way to introduce diversity in food preparation.
“What I would like to see from this project is...a closer look at the nutrition of our children...We always speak about health and nutrition and we talk about having to eat what we grow and grow what we eat. This doesn’t mean that we should ignore the diverse culinary opportunities that exist. Here it is that we’re being blessed with this gift from the Japanese Government; I would think that the Japanese Government and even the Ambassador would be proud if we were to introduce a few of their healthy dishes...to expose our children to diversity while maintaining our domestic way of presentation.”
Dr McIntyre also emphasised that the food served at the cafeteria should be interesting and most importantly, healthy.
“The tastes of our children have changed because we are entering more and more into the fast food world. Both parents are busy working to make ends meet and things can be rough sometimes although never too rough to ignore our local foods.”
“We sit at home with corn curls, lollipops, processed sweet biscuits and candy and we feel good about that...Yet we are changing the tastes of our children and we have to reverse that. The best way to do that is right here today...we are looking at them as the future and it begins right here. I would like Trafalgar to be an example of changing back the tastes of our children. We must take them back to where they should be to protect them as the future.”
Hon McIntyre also specifically thanked the Government and people of Japan.
Education Minister, Hon. Petter Saint Jean highlighted that the new cafeteria will mean added value to school operations and students’ well-being.
Hon Saint Jean also spoke on the relationship between Government’s school-feeding programme and the new cafeteria.
“As you are well aware, the school-based feeding programme, seeks, among other things, to improve the nutritional status of school children while encouraging school enrolment and attendance, thereby improving student performance and indeed cognitive development. This new cafeteria will be a welcomed addition as we seek to strive to achieve those objectives in the interest of our children’s health.”
Importantly, the Education Minister underscored the importance of promoting a healthy and locally-based diet at school.
“Parents and teachers must ensure that the meals which are prepared and served are well-balanced and that they meet the nutritional needs of your students. I wish to join your Parliamentary Representative in urging you to source the foods from your community. In fact, Trafalgar and environs have a rich tradition of producing large quantities of fresh agricultural products. It is an opportunity or the community to be involved in the school. Given the prevalence if unhealthy eating habits among our school aged children; which to my mind has been amplified by the rapid spread of fast food chains on the island, and availability of processed fatty food packages; there must be a heavy emphasis on eating what we grow and growing what will be eaten here.”
The school’s cafeteria is being constructed with the assistance of the Japanese Government.
Explaining the details of the grant to the ceremony was Japanese Ambassador to Dominica, His Excellency Yoshimasa Tezuka.
“This cafeteria construction project will receive funding under the Grant Assistance for Grass Roots Human Security Projects of up to US$ 36,240, This will extend support to the activities of the Trafalgar Primary School which is seeking to become a beneficiary of the school feeding programme that the Ministry of Education has implemented as part of its development programme. I would like to express my gratitude to the Government of Dominica, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency and the Trafalgar Primary School and to all those who are involved in the realisation of this project.”
According to Ambassador Tezuka, the Japan Grant Assistance for Grass Roots Human Security Projects or G.G.P. targets basic human needs through non-profit organisations all over the world.
“With this project the Trafalgar Primary School will provide proper food for its students who might not have been able to access it. Nutritional balance is very important for a healthy lifestyle especially for children. I have no doubt that this project is truly one which helps meet basic human needs and we are very pleased that we can assist through the G.G.P.”
Principal of the Trafalgar Primary School, Doreen Watt listed a few objectives that the cafeteria is expected to achieve.
“To construct a building where nutritious meals can be prepared to feed students during school hours at the Trafalgar Primary and Pre-schools; to make available safe and comfortable eating accommodation so students would not be forced to eat in their classrooms.”
“To increase students’ academic performances since they will be having well-balanced meals prepared at the school’s cafeteria; to help eliminate the long distances that some students have to walk to have lunchtime while facing heavy traffic especially during tourist season...” she said.
Principal Watt said thanks to the Japanese Government and other contributing persons for its generous contribution to education and youth development.
“I now express gratitude to all who assisted us during the application process and a special thank you to the Government and people of Japan, the GGP headquarters in Japan, the Japanese Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago, Japanese International Cooperation Agency, the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development, the Parliamentary Representative of the Roseau Valley, Dr Colin McIntyre and all our parents and staff who are so thrilled with the grant.”
The US$36,000 cafeteria will be equipped with a kitchen and eating area, a freezer and a cooker.
Construction is expected to take five months.