HAYES, Clarendon - Children attending Hayes Primary and Junior High School in south east Clarendon, who would otherwise go to school without breakfast, are now being given a hot meal in the mornings, thanks to the Hayes Refinery Community Council.
The council has spearheaded a school-feeding initiative to cater to some 150 students daily.
The programme, which got underway at the beginning of the new school term, targets children who attend school hungry, because their parents are unable to provide for them.
"This is a wonderful (initiative) that is significantly benefitting not only the students, but the school as well," said Principal Marsha Latchman.
She said the teachers have welcomed the programme because it has helped to reduce lethargy among the children in most grades.
She said many of the students were not attending school regularly and were underperforming as a result of being hungry.
"Since the commencement of the programme, students are more alert and attentive and are coming to school regularly and on time," she noted.
Latchman said other parents, who are having problems feeding their children in the mornings, are now showing an interest in the programme and that the students are appreciative of the programme.
Breakfast includes fried dumplings and mackerel, sausages, porridge, sandwiches and tea.
Chairman of the Refinery Community Council Lorine Cousins said the council decided to start the programme to get children to attend school on a regular basis and to improve their ability to concentrate.
"The principal had outlined the need and its impact on the children's performance," Cousins said. "We know that hungry children cannot learn, so as a council, we decided to intervene."
Cousins explained that the programme is being funded from the council's chicken-rearing programme. She also had high praises for bauxite/alumina company Jamalco, which had encouraged the council to be self-sufficient.
The council, Cousins said, has been benefitting from the support of the business community in Hayes.
"We have already received a bag of cornmeal and sausages from businesses in the community and others have committed to assist," she said.