Black Immigrant Daily News
Some parents and guardians of students who take school meals service are upset over the inconsistency and tardiness of the dishes at the educational institutions.
The final straw for some parents at three urban schools this week was the arrival of the School Meals Department van around 2:55 pm on Friday, February 17, 2023.
Somebody in the kitchen take sick or a driver or the van down, but this happening too often now
By way of the media, parents said they learnt of the industrial action at the School Meals Department – Harbour Road centre on Friday, but they contended that for their children late school meal deliveries are happening too often. This week alone, a staff member at a St Michael-located primary school speaking under anonymity said, “School Meals was late every day this week. On Thursday, it arrived at minutes to 1 pm. This caused classes to resume at minutes to 2 pm on Thursday.”
At a neighbouring secondary school – The Ann Hill School, teachers there said that the students, some of whom are on special diets, were already on the school bus at 2:50 pm for the end of school on Friday when the School Meals Department van arrived to deliver their lunches.
The teacher said, the van simply returned to the department with the lunches. “So these children, most of them, went without any lunch all Friday. How that could be fair?”
A parent whose child is in Infants at Wilkie Cumberbatch Primary School, which got School Meals delivered at minutes to 3 pm on Friday, said, “What hurt me is that the Ministry and the schools got extra rules now. Friday was juice and fruit-only day, so my child couldn’t even have her usual extra snacks in her bag in case something like this happened. They are four and five-year-olds in Reception and Infants that ain’t eat anything besides fruit and breakfast all day, and that is for the ones who even had breakfast or carry fruit.” She said the sad reality for some, is that school meals is their only meal all day and they got nothing on Friday and may have gone home to nothing.
Look at all of School Meals, because Friday is staff, then next week it’s the van, look at everything
Another parent told Loop News:
“Better has to be done!
“One or two late days in a month or a term, fine. You know things happen. Somebody in the kitchen take sick or a driver or the van down, but this happening too often now.”
Recognising that on Friday, after the industrial action at the Harbour Road Centre, the Ministry promised to improve staffing at the facility, parents pleaded for the Ministry to approach addressing the challenges at the School Meals Department holistically. “Do not fix one leak and leave others unattended!” One frustrated parent continued, “Look at all of School Meals, because Friday is staff, then next week it’s the van, look at everything, please.”
And the sentiment of this aforementioned parent was echoed in the cries of the School Meals workers, represented by the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW). The release from the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training (METVT) did not respond to the other points made by NUPW Deputy Wayne Walrond, who told Loop News that in addition to the staff shortage, members complained about the equipment and machinery as well as the fleet of vehicles and their upkeep.
The blind, deaf and autistic students at the Irving Wilson School in The Pine also saw School Meals arriving minutes before the final bell for the day on Friday.
The Ministry in its press release on Friday did indicate that due to the work stoppage, one school did not receive meals, and those that arrived late at three others were returned, but the institutions were not named.