Meals from the School Feeding Programme will be provided on a needs basis, Education Minister Anthony Garcia announced yesterday. He said this is an attempt cut wastage as some $234 million is spent annually to provide breakfasts and lunches to primary and secondary school students.
At a news conference at the Education Ministry in Port-of-Spain, the minister said an audit of the programme revealed massive wastage. Out of the 42,933 breakfasts and 65,269 lunches supplied daily, a survey showed that 914 breakfasts and 1455 lunches are provided in excess of the stipulated requirements.
“This has resulted in a loss of $6059.82 where breakfast meals are concerned and $13,095 where lunches are concerned which amounts to an average loss of $19,154.82 per day. We can’t afford to sustain these losses,” Garcia said.
The minister said one would be surprised to see some of the students “lining up to collect box lunch” as he revealed that one of the recommendations to prevent wastage is a means test to identify needy students.
On the debt owed to caterers, the minister assured that this will be paid. He said $15 million was paid last month.
Garcia said there will an overhaul of the school transportation system, also in a bid to cut unnecessary expenditure. He said the PTSC deals directly with maxi taxi operators who transport needy students and those from rural communities. The PTSC bills the ministry for 35,000 seats daily.
“But the information shows that 12,000 students really access this service. We are going to look at the service delivery and we are going to ask our principals to actively monitor the service provider,” he said.