Kamewa Bilingual Centre School in Luganville, Santo is looking to improve the welfare of its students by providing affordable and healthy meals in a new initiative through the Vanuatu Skills Partnership and the Sanma Skills Centre under the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) – working in collaboration with the Northern Island Mama Vendors Association (NIMVA) and other stakeholders.
Through recent stakeholders’ meetings, a supply chain system of Agri-products has been established to ensure sustainable and steady supply of local food for affordable, nutritionally balanced lunches to offer students.
High rates of absenteeism, difficulties in affording meals, and a lack of available nutritional meals are issues affecting students after TC Harold and COVID-19. A survey conducted shows 90 % of food currently prepared and sold to students by food vendors are from imported food with very minimal nutritional value.
With this initiative, 1,407 students will be impacted and will be served nutritional, well balanced lunch meals priced at 100 VT from 100 % local food during school days.
According to School Principal, Mr. James Williams, “The School Administration is looking for an approach to improving student welfare, health and learning environment by providing, affordable, healthy local nutritious lunch menus. This initiative promotes a healthy lifestyle in line with the Ministry of Education’s sweet drinks policy to improve the health of students in the school settings and thereby contribute effectively to the nation’s socio-economic development. There is ongoing disruption to afternoon classes because a high number of students are not returning to school after lunch. There is also a high number of students resorting to unhealthy and unbalanced diets from imported food with high sugar contents. It is a great opportunity for Kamewa Bilingual Centre school to take part in this initiative, at such a time when parents are struggling to make ends meet due to COVID-19 and TC Harold impacts. This partnership is an excellent way to effectively support student learning, improve student welfare and promote healthy lifestyle for a happier, healthy society.”
Through its management, the school will be providing the opportunity to 5 mamas who have been operating as food stall vendors from the surrounding communities to become full-time paid school chefs under this initiative.
The school management is also working with supporting partners to establish a sustainable and reliable local food supply chain with the Northern Island Mama Vendors Association (NIMVA), a legal recognised association with over 3500 qualified farmers set up through the support of the Australian Government supported Markets for Change program.
Skills for Agribusiness Coordinator with the Vanuatu Skills Partnership, Mr Jonas Masovish, is excited about the broad benefits of this timely initiative. “Not only is this collaboration increasing the health and well-being of students through local kakae, it is also creating a new market for local farmers who will be part of the supply chain to ensure the production and delivery of fresh, local produce. This is an important economic boost for farmers in this difficult period after TC Harold and COVID-19”.
The chain of protein suppliers includes livestock farmers and fishermen in Santo who will provide beef, eggs, fish, and fruit vegetables.
This initiative is part of the ‘Farm to School’ activity that is being implemented through the provincial MoET Skills Centres across Vanuatu, under the Vanuatu Skills Partnership.
The Vanuatu Skills Partnership is a joint investment between the Government of Vanuatu and the Government of Australia.