A Ministry of Education official encourages students and guardians to grow their own food.
Hedda Philips-Boyce, education officer at the Department of Education, Technology and Skills Training, made the suggestion on Thursday, June 16 during the awards ceremony for the Essay and Poster Competition of the nutrition month.
The head of education pointed out that with 1 in 3 children overweight in Barbados, home-grown foods will help control the high prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and are an economic measure recognizing the high cost of life in the world.
“With the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, if this continues, imported food will become scarce. We are seeing the effects right now with the increase in prices. We have to find those drums, find those pots, and we have to start planting our own food,” Phillips-Boyce said.
“Ultra-processed foods have been highly manipulated and are high in fat, high in salt and high in sugar…. The key is to cook your own food. We have to start cooking our own food again because we know what we put in our pot,” she said.
Phillips-Boyce’s comments were backed by the Minister of State for the Department of Health and Welfare, Dr Sonia Browne, who urged parents, teachers and pupils to educate themselves on labels and food ingredients.
“Students, teachers, [and] parents continue to be curious and eager to surround themselves with good information. Keep sharing information. Children encourage your mothers, fathers and siblings to choose healthy foods by starting and maintaining a diet low in salt, sugar and fat and to incorporate exercise into a healthy lifestyle,” said added Dr. Browne.
The doctor also urged the principals and students gathered to “push for change” and insist on a reformulation of sugary foods and drinks.
She said with 75% of school-aged children drinking one or more sodas a day, schools must also take control of health and well-being.
Dr Browne praised the 15 primary and secondary schools in the Nutrition Month Essay and Poster Competition for “choosing not just to be part of the problem, but also to be part of the solution”.
The competition had over 53 entries, with the youngest contestant being a three-year-old from St Gabriel’s School. Cash prizes of $1,000, $500, and $350 were awarded to the first, second, and third schools, respectively, to be used to create sustainable food and nutrition and agriculture-related projects in schools. .
St Gabriel’s School won first place in the Elementary Essay Competition, while Reynold Weekes placed first in the Elementary Poster Competition. The Lodge School won first prize in the Secondary Division Essay and Poster Competition.