Parents in east downtown Kingston have lauded a nutrition workshop and cooking lab that Project STAR and partners organised to expose parents to ways in which low-cost meal options can be prepared, as well as fun and healthy meals for their children.
The workshop was held in partnership with Musson Jamaica and Rainforest Seafood and re-launched Project STAR’s school feeding programme in four schools in east downtown Kingston.
Akila Downes, one of the parents who attended the workshop, commended the initiative. “It was worth coming to the workshop today. I learned how to feed my three children better. I will use what the chefs showed me how to stretch the dollar when I go to the wholesale store. It was a nice experience for me,” she said.
Another parent, Samantha Henry, said she learned a lot from the workshop. “I created some of the dishes in the cooking competition, as I like to come up with new recipes. The highlight for me was the session on how to manage a budget and make simple, but attractive meals from what I have at home. Two of my five children help me in the kitchen, and I shall pass on what I learn today to them.”
Project director at STAR, Saffrey Brown, informed that the event was organised to educate parents and the canteen staff at the targeted schools on how to prepare healthy low-cost meals for children.
“We are happy that the event was a success and that parents and school administrators found the workshop informative and practical. We want to also extend a big thank you to our sponsors who have come on board again to support our school feeding programme,” she said.
Lisa D’Oyen, executive director of the Musson Foundation, shared that her organisation was happy that the patrons benefitted from knowledge sharing and skills from the workshop. She looked forward to renewing its partnership with Project STAR on the School Feeding Programme.
“We are pleased to share in this project to improve the lives of residents of the East Downtown Kingston community. I encourage you, the participants, to enjoy this opportunity and to take from its elements that can help you feed your family and students even better. We look forward to working with Project STAR on future programmes,” she said.
Group communication manager at Rainforest Caribbean, Bethany Young, said that her organisation was excited about their recommitment to the partnership and the success of the workshop and cooking lab.
“The Project Star Cooking Lab is a fantastic event that illustrates the power of food to bring people and communities together. The Rainforest team was delighted to be a part of the very first cooking lab and to see women from the communities that Project Star serves come together for an evening that included learning about nutrition and watching cooking demos for budget-friendly and kid-friendly meals. The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the cookoff, where the teams made some of the most delicious meals I have ever tasted, featuring Rainforest sliced fish,” she said.
Sasha Vaccianna Riley, executive director of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), commended the private sector for supporting the nutrition programme of Project STAR.
“Project STAR is a critical programme for the PSOJ as it calls attention to people’s needs. The support of the private sector to this project is indicative of the role the business community can play in empowering our people and the nation,” she said. “So, we are a proud partner of Project STAR, not just to benefit our businesses but also persons in under-resourced communities. The School Feeding Programme has resulted in a 17 per cent increase in attendance in the participating schools, which speaks volumes of its impact,” she added.
The workshop and cooking lab saw chefs Samantha George and Lisa Andrade leading cooking demonstrations on meal preparation for patrons whilst, nutritionist Patricia Thompson educated patrons on how to prepare healthy meals for their families.
The School Feeding Programme will be re-established in Real Success Basic School, Calabar Primary School, Highholborn Street Basic School and Parade Gardens Preparatory School, all located in east downtown Kingston.