MP Homer Davis calls for PATH to craft feeding programme Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

As part of the proposed transformation of the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), Member of Parliament (MP) for St James Southern, Homer Davis, is calling for PATH to craft a comprehensive feeding programme component for needy primary school children.

At the same time, Davis said principals and teachers at the primary level should play a more active role in the selection of PATH beneficiaries.

“When I go into the primary schools, for example, teachers will tell me that some of the children who are beneficiaries of the PATH programme don’t really need it,” said Davis during a question-and-answer session at a PATH town hall meeting at Montego Bay Cultural Centre in St James on Thursday.

He said in reality, needy students are effectively using “their own lunch” received from PATH to “subsidise those children” who do not need such benefits.

“So, I am saying minister and PS (Permanent Secretary), shouldn’t there be some collaboration when the investigation is being (done to select PATH beneficiaries) with the primary school principals and teachers to identify the children who are most needy?” ask Davis.

In noting that several students come to school “hungry”, Davis said PATH must incorporate an adequate feeding programme in the schools.

Currently, only students on PATH at schools receive free meals for lunch.

“I think PATH needs to be involved in a comprehensive primary school feeding programme because a lot of children come to school hungry,” Davis claimed.

Also State Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), with special responsibility for OPM West, Davis said he heard someone speak recently about a situation where when some children consume the lunch provided by PATH, “they don’t really eat anything” again until they return to school the following day.

“In the review (of PATH), feeding our young ones must be high on the agenda,” declared Davis, adding that proper nutrition will improve the learning capacity of the nation’s children.

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Pearnel Charles Jr, in responding to his parliamentary colleague’s recommendations, said after the town hall meetings across the country are completed, the ministry will be having “specific” engagements with the Education and Youth Ministry and other ministries. This, he said, is being done to ensure “a new dimension” of the collaboration towards the revised PATH structure is formed.

But Charles Jr reminded Davis that collaboration is a feature of the current PATH structure.

“Right now, principals are recommending students for PATH. Right now, teachers are writing and recommending persons (for PATH),” the minister stressed.

He said the experts at the Social Security Ministry take those recommendations and carry out their evaluations.

“But the social worker is going to be doing a much more comprehensive investigation,” Charles Jr stated.