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New banana-based school feeding program to be piloted at Bella Vista school in Toledo

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Posted: Thursday, November 4, 2021. 5:43 pm CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: A new school feeding program based on bananas will be piloted at Bella Vista school in Toledo and if successful will be extended to other schools across Belize.

Bella Vista is a village in the banana belt near Independence with a population that surpasses 3,500 inhabitants.

The Ministry of Agriculture Food Security and Enterprise (MAFSE), in collaboration with Fyffes, the Banana Growers Association, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, and Our Lady of Bella Vista School, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a new school-based pilot project, said a release from MAFSE.

“The project is to provide healthy snacks made from local bananas to 100 students in the Stann Creek and Toledo districts,” said the release. “The fortified product made from local bananas will be developed by the Ministry of Agriculture Agro Processing Unit in Central Farm.”

MAFSE said its Agro-Processing Unit is already making banana flour from the bananas provided by Fyffe’s.

The project is aimed at offering a well-balanced nutrient supplement to be distributed among at-risk groups in Belize. It is expected that the pilot project at Our Lady of Bella Vista School in the village of Bella Vista, Toledo, “will yield many positive benefits to both children by improving their health and the attendance and grades in school”.

“Malnutrition mainly in the form of stunting and underweight has been documented in high prevalence rates within Stann Creek and Toledo districts which are neighborhood communities to the Fyffes farms in Belize,” said the statement.

The MOU was signed by Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise; Louis Zabaneh, Minister of State, Ministry of Education; Michel Chebat, Minister of Health & Wellness; Caoimhe Buckley, chief corporate affairs officer, Fyffes; and Vincent Nuñez, principal, Our Lady of Bella Vista R.C. School.

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