A new $16 million centre already under construction at Six Roads, St. Philip should significantly ease the burden faced by management and staff of the School Meals Department and boost morale and communication across the board.
This was stressed by Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Senator Harry Husbands, as he delivered the lecture on The Growth and Development of the School Meals Programme in Barbados at the Harcourt Lewis Auditorium of the Barbados Public Workers’ Cooperative Credit Union headquarters.
Explaining that increased participation by schools in Government’s feeding programme had placed considerable strain on facilities and equipment at various school meals centres across the island, Husbands said: “In most cases, it has been almost impossible to upgrade some of the centres because of space constraints. Some of the areas of concern identified by the SMD are: non-existence of separate receiving and delivery facilities; inadequate changing facilities for staff; poor ventilation; absence of adequate accommodations for staff members, [and] absence of suitable office space to perform certain administrative functions.
The official noted it was for these reasons that a decision was taken by the Government in 2000 to construct a new school meals centre at Kendal Hill, Christ Church, to replace the centres at Country Road, Harbour Road, St. Christopher and Summervale. Explaining that this was, however, shelved due to several factors, chief among them being the cost of building, he said centres were today now providing meals beyond their intended capacities as space allocation for staff was further compromised, resulting in more overcrowding.
Those gathered also heard that in 2010, the plan to have a new school meals centre was revisited and the necessary ground work set in train with construction at Six Roads, St. Philip. Husbands contended that the cost of operating a facility that supports 15,000 persons would be more beneficial and that it would supply the same number of lunches.
“Thus economies of scales would be realised [as] the aim is to accomplish the highest amount of production for the least amount of costs,” he stressed.
Other benefits likely to be derived from a centre at Six Roads, he said, included an expected improvement in staff morale due to better working conditions in terms of ventilation, space and building design; improved staff communication; easier access to employees for disseminating information; defined areas for the preparation of meals; adequate storage space for dry and refrigerated stock and an adequate loading and delivery base.
Acknowledging that there was also the added benefit of the SMD being able to facilitate Government’s disaster management programme, Husbands stressed that the Six Roads centre, when completed, would be “a modern facility that would have the capability of providing meals for displaced persons in the event that there is a natural disaster that would necessitate mass feeding.”
The new centre at Six Roads, St. Philip, which started in 2012, is being constructed at an estimated cost of $16,750,000 and is expected to finish next year.