Simpson Bay – With many families continuing to struggle financially following Hurricane Irma, the Netherlands Red Cross, through its St. Maarten branch, is extending its school feeding program until the end of May 2018.
“We recognize that many parents are still finding it a challenge to secure full-time work following the damage to local businesses by Hurricane Irma,” says Michiel Jurgens, project coordinator for the Netherlands Red Cross. “As a result, their ability to provide nutritious and healthy meals for their children may be compromised. By extending our school feeding program, we hope to ease some of the strain they may be feeling.”
The program provides breakfasts and hot lunches for approximately 4,000 primary school students in 18 schools. A new breakfast menu has been developed which includes more fresh fruits for the students. This follows the implementation of a new 20-day lunch menu, which was revised to better meet local tastes.
Meal preparation begins daily at 5 a.m. when the first of 28 local Red Cross staff walk through the kitchen door at Sundial School. Since it started in October 2017, more than 438,000 meals have been prepared and then delivered from this kitchen.
“Many of our kitchen staff are graduates of Sundial School’s hospitality program. Receiving a steady and reliable income allows them to better support their families and helps spur the economy,” says Jurgens. “It’s just one of the many spinoff benefits of the program.”
The school feeding program is in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth & Sports and is one of the early recovery projects financed from the Dutch Recovery Fund for St. Maarten, under the auspices of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations.