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Special Envoy for Families & Children Rosanna Briceño calls for action to improve the health & wellness of children, families, and wider society

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Posted: Saturday, October 16, 2021. 1:25 pm CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Special Envoy for Families and Children Rosanna Briceño on Friday made an urgent call for action for the benefit of the health and wellness of our children, families, and wider society.

“This year, I ask that you take bolder, more innovative steps to make healthy and sustainable diets available to the great people of our nation. This will require strong political will and commitment. I am dedicated. Will you join me?” the Special Envoy said in closing her speech at the World Food Day 2021 ceremony held by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise (MAFSE) at the Orange Walk District Agriculture Station in Yo Creek.

World Food Day was observed on Friday under the theme: ‘Our actions are our future – Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and better life’.

Special Envoy for Families and Children Rosanna Briceño said World Food Day is one of the most celebrated days in the world with 150 countries participating with activities that promote awareness of the food situation in the world.

“A vast majority of impoverished Belizeans are hungry or undernourished, while large numbers are chronically overweight due to a poor diet, she said. “There has never been a more urgent need to transform the way Belize produces and consumes food. Food insecurity presents a multidimensional threat to many Belizeans, and it requires a concerted and multi-sectoral response.”

Mrs. Briceño said that 42 percent of our population of 400,000+ live in poverty in both urban and rural communities.

“According to UNICEF, 50 percent of Belizean children under age 15 are classified as poor. Disproportionately, only one-fifth of our nations’ population is responsible for farming and livestock production,” she said.

Mrs. Briceño said the MAFSE’s six-year program ‘Resilient Rural Belize’ backed by $40 million from the International Fund for Agriculture Development and the Green Climate Fund is as a key government initiative to alleviate hunger in Belize.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has further emphasized the need for an urgent and immediate change. The limitations due to the pandemic has made it even harder for local farmers – who are already grappling with climate variability and extremes – to sell their harvests. Rising poverty in Belize is demanding an increased need for sustainable and available food supplies.”

“Despite efforts to mitigate the impact of food deserts, poor nutrition, and food insecurity, the contradictions could not be more stark. A vast majority of impoverished Belizeans are hungry or undernourished, while large numbers are chronically overweight due to a poor diet,” she reiterated.

Mrs. Briceño called on the Ministries of Agriculture and Finance to continue extending their commitment to financing food feeding programs and school gardens and ensure they are sustainable.

She said that one of the missions she has as Special Envoy for the Development of Families and Children is “to ensure that our poor and vulnerable children across Belize have equal access to daily nutritious meals.

She said her office would make certain steps towards that goal and looked forward to the collaboration and financing from several government ministries.

She said her office was looking forward to increased funding and support for the current school feeding program, to establishing new feeding programs, establishing and financing national school gardens, and developing a national food pantry program.

The Special Envoy said that her office’s future success in this goal depends on transforming the Belizean agri-food system so that it is inclusive of youth, women, and indigenous people.

She added that her office must work together with the government, private sector, NGOs, and international partners to ensure that our food systems are sustainable, environmentally, socially, and financially.

“We can create food security where both hunger and poverty are dramatically reduced with the right policies, support, and investments in agricultural and rural development,” she said.

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