Mona Social Services expands kitchen garden initiative

Poor nutrition can cause serious health issues and have an effect on a child's ability to learn. The kitchen garden project, started by the Mona Social Services/UWI Community Film Project (MSS/UWICFP), seeks to enhance the teaching and learning process to lessen these negative effects. The project's goal is to assist school districts in growing vegetables to complement their school lunch programme. The garden and the drip irrigation system provided will enhance schools' water supply while also enhancing the teaching and learning process.

On February 10 the MSS/UWICFP hosted a handover ceremony of a kitchen garden to Hope Valley Experimental School. The school is now equipped with a kitchen garden that was made possible through the MSS/UWICFP, Lions Club of Mona, and with funding provided by the Froebel Trust.

Speaking at the handover, principal of Hope Valley Experimental School Anthony Grant noted that the school appreciates the garden as the school currently feeds over 200 students through their breakfast programme, and over 500 students and staff for lunch. He added that "this will afford the students the opportunity to learn so much more because their nutrition has been improved with this resource".

Minister of Education and Youth and Member of Parliament St Andrew Eastern Fayval Williams shared that the kitchen garden falls into the nutrition in schools policy.

"This can serve as a catalyst for teaching the importance of eating as naturally as possible because what goes into our mouths impacts our overall health," she remarked.

She added that this gives children the opportunity for responsibility as they will be involved in the day-to-day upkeep of the garden and it may also prompt them to establish their own gardens at home.

"Beyond nutrition, students are given the opportunity to learn about agriculture, nature, science and so much more. We embrace this garden, and we want to thank our donors and sponsors," Williams declared.

Lion Sharon Hasting, president of the Lions Club of Mona, noted that she is happy to have once again partnered with the MSS/UWICFP on another project as the club has worked with the MSS/UWICFP on various projects for many years. She continued in sharing that the Lions Club of Mona is a part of Lions Club International and that their motto is "We serve" so they are seeking out more projects like this to contribute to improving the nutrition of our nation's children.

Stanley Smellie, lecturer in energy engineering at The UWI, Mona and immediate past president of the Lions Club of Mona, noted that the irrigation system created makes the transformation of the space more significant as the space was previously used as an additional parking lot but is now a kitchen garden from which the students of Hope Valley Experimental School will benefit.

Executive director of MSS/UWICFP Dr Olivene Burke noted that the garden was developed sustainably through the efforts of the Faculty of Engineering, The UWI, Mona. Students and staff who came to the space developed and implemented a rainwater irrigation system to harness rainwater for watering crops in the garden. She added that a tank was also donated to assist with storing the collected water.

She also emphasised the importance of working together to build the UWI community and its surroundings as she noted that the project could not have been successful without the hard work of the members of the Lions Club of Mona as well as the dedication of the students of the Faculty of Engineering, The UWI, Mona, and the funding provided by the Froebel Trust.

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