November 13, 2014

Public Schoolchildren Excel With Adventist Breakfasts


Children are excelling in their studies at a public school in rural Jamaica after six Adventist women started cooking them a breakfast of eggs, fruit, porridge and fried dumplings twice a week, teachers said.

The 86 students at Chester Primary School in St. Ann on the Caribbean island have received the free meals every Tuesday and Thursday since April, when the Adventist women decided no child in the community should have to start the school day hungry.

Teacher Luna Boswell said the students looked forward to the meals, which also include mackerel, bread, callaloo, juice, and baked items.

“I recognize that the students have become more alert and they have enough energy to take them through the day’s activities,” Boswell said.

She said the breakfast program also motivates hungry students to arrive at school on time so they can eat and helps some parents reach work on time as well.

<strong>GETTING A DRINK:</strong> Volunteers Coreen Peart, left, and Princess Wilson pouring juice for Chester Primary School students. Credit: Dyhann Buddoo-Fletcher / IAD
<strong>A BALANCED MEAL:</strong> Students enjoying a breakfast of a boiled egg, steamed callaloo, bread, melon and a cup of juice. Credit: Dyhann Buddoo-Fletcher / IAD
<strong>SIX VOLUNTEERS:</strong> The Adventist women who feed the children, from left: Cardell McKain, Pauline Gordon,  Princess Wilson, Monica Mitchell, Merlyn Ingram, and Coreen Peart. Credit: Dyhann Buddoo-Fletcher / IAD

Suzette Barnes-Wilson, the school’s principal, praised the meals as nutritious and said the students enjoyed them immensely.

She added: “Most beneficiaries are not accustomed to having fruit in the morning, and we highly appreciate this.”

The Adventist women who prepare the food attend the local Chester Adventist Church but live outside the Chester community. They set out as early as 6:30 a.m., traversing bad roads to reach the school in time for breakfast.

“The road is bad, hilly and dusty, but that doesn’t prevent us from helping,” said breakfast co-organizer Merline Ingram. “When we recognized that the children were attending school without the most important meal for the day, we had to do something, and we enjoy what we are doing for them.”

The breakfast program is funded through weekly donations from the Chester Adventist Church. Pastor Gary Buddoo-Fletcher thanked church members on a recent Sabbath for their regular contributions.

“You are ensuring that these children get a fair chance of a good education so that they can grow up to be productive citizens of this nation,” Buddoo-Fletcher said. “I ask that with God’s help you keep up the good work.”

Church members said they only have one request: better roads.

“We are here for the community, to do what we can to make their lives better,” member Christine Shand said. “Our only appeal is for the government to fix the roads so that Chester can be a better place.”