Pembroke Hall Primary enjoys banana-based breakfast

Sunday, February 10, 2019

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Jamaica Producers (JP) launched its 'Eat Well with JP St Mary's breakfast programme' on Thursday, January 24, serving over 230 grades four and five students at Pembroke Hall Primary with a fare of green banana porridge, and franks and beans with boiled green bananas.

The JP Group has pledged, in commemoration of its 90th anniversary, to supply locally grown green bananas to public schools at a cost of $5 per pound. The first phase of the project will involve 20 schools, with a plan to extend the offer to health care facilities and registered charities.

“This is the first in the series of the Eat Well with JP St Mary's Breakfast programme. And what it really is, is a support initiative for the JP St Mary's Heritage Project,” noted Tara Goulbourne, commercial manager – Jamaica, JP Tropical Foods Ltd.

“We are going into 20 schools over the next three months. We will be taking over their breakfast programme for one day and showing them the benefits of eating green bananas by showcasing a variety of recipes.”

The Pembroke Hall fare was prepared by chef Travis Hyman using JP St Mary's recipes.

According to principal of the school, Ricardo Valentine, the support from JP was timely and impactful.

“We really appreciate JP coming on board to support our breakfast programme,” he said. “The truth is, for a student to be productive they need to have proper nutrition. And so JP coming here today and offering bananas at a heavily discounted rate for a year is indeed awesome. The $5-per-lb green bananas will go a far way in enhancing our breakfast programme. In fact, that saving will allow us to feed even more of our children (who) cannot afford nor receive breakfast in the home. And so, in the long-run, when this is sustained, we are expecting to get better results — as we will have children eating healthier and so they'll be more productive academically.”

Pembroke Hall Primary currently has 1,100 students on a single-shift system, and Principal Valentine estimates that 37-40 per cent of the students benefit from the breakfast programme.

“It is vital to us that the children are fed; it's a mandate of the Heritage Project,” highlighted Goulbourne. “You have children, you give them the bags, pencils and books to help them learn at school — but if they aren't probably nourished they cannot sit in a class and learn. So it's so important that we ensure our children get breakfast every morning before they begin school, so that they can focus. Our children are our future; they are valuable assets of our country and should be treated and cared for as such.”

Pembroke Hall Primary has an active 4-H club, with a small farm and garden which engages the students in some form of agriculture. However, Principal Valentine is concerned that many do not know what they are eating and from where it originates.

“Through the 4-H club we have banana, melon, plantain trees, cucumber and pepper trees, and a few others,” he noted.

“However, I took a few students with me to look at the garden and they could not identify the melon or pepper tree by itself, and only one could identify the cucumber tree because a cucumber was on it. It is important that we get students to learn about the nutritious and natural foods available from the rich soil of our island. And once they know these crops and how they're grown, then they'll be able to make better and healthier choices.”

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