A vendor who has been selling outside the gates of the Grantley Adams Memorial Secondary School in St. Joseph for the past 30 years says she is not worried about sales, but about the children she has been feeding year after year “whether they had money or not”.
“It is the children that hurting,” said the elderly women who did not want to give her name, but who the students call “Ms. B”.
Today marked four days that students have refused to buy from the school’s canteen, which they said has been selling food that has been hurting their pockets and their taste buds.
During a visit to the rural institution, a Barbados TODAY team spoke to two vendors who were set up at a nearby bus stop.
Both women recalled that since they were asked by the school’s management to leave the premises, students have been “begging” them to keep coming with the food and snacks. The vendors said the students tell them everyday that they are unhappy with the high price and quality of the food being sold at the school’s canteen.
Since Monday Principal Valdez Francis ordered that all gates be locked during lunchtime, including the gates leading to the playing field, in an apparent attempt to prevent his charges from leaving the premises to make purchases.
Vendor Tamara Beckles said she has been selling outside the school’s gates for almost eight years. She said when she was suddenly told that she could no longer ply her trade from that location, she was shocked, and so were the students who look forward to her food.
Beckles recalled that from the time the management of the school’s canteen changed at the beginning of the 2018/2019 school term, the students “begged” her to start coming at lunchtime since sh ewas only coming before and after school.
“We come for the children. This whole situation really hurting me, as a parent, it hurting me. The students hungry,” she said.
“When I decided to come after the students begged me for two weeks to come, I was so surprised that almost half the school come to buy from me. I am telling you, these students begged me to come. Some children do not have money, and I give them. For those who can buy, I make the lunch affordable for them,” she added.
Beckles, a 42-year-old mother of two; one in secondary school and the other at university, said that while she was aware that Ministry of Education officials held a meeting with the school’s Principal Valdez Francis, and the Board of Management, she was hurt that nobody has yet shown an interest in hearing how the vendors feel about the matter.