Photo: Pixzolo Photography. This looks kind of healthy, but will kids eat it?

Antigua–Caribbean managers and professionals are starting a course to strengthen their skills in implementing school feeding programs.

The course coordinator, Flávia Schwartzman, has explained how the course will be developed, highlighting that the content was conceptualized specifically for the Caribbean, with the partnership of the University of the West Indies and professors. Representatives from Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago will participate.

The training is promoted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Brazilian Cooperation Agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (ABC/MRE), the National Fund for Educational Development (FNDE) and the Caribbean Agro-Economic Society (CAES) of the University of the West Indies, under the trilateral south-south cooperation project “Consolidation of School Feeding Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)”.

During the opening, Dr Renata Clarke, FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for the Caribbean, commented about the multiple impacts that countries are facing during the current pandemic and that “This course is an opportunity to learn about methodologies and practical models that can guide countries in the school feeding topic and healthy eating”.

She also added, “The changes and opportunities that can be generated by School Feeding Programs (SFP) in the lives of family farmers, with the markets opportunities created by SFP”.

Dr Clarke warned that the levels of obesity and overweight among children and teenagers in the Caribbean have been, for many years, one of the highest in the world and the school feeding is an important alternative for Caribbean countries to form healthy eating habits.

The FAO Nutrition Officer for Mesoamerica, Israel Rios, also highlighted the current situation in the region, which has been facing serious problems with obesity and malnutrition; in addition, he said that problems such as obesity and the current pandemic affect the most vulnerable groups.

“All the advances we have made in Agenda 2030 are at risk due to COVID-19,” he said. About the course, he added that the content provides to all the participants, tools and necessary knowledge for the development of SPF.