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May 9, 2014
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Gov't budgets $2.4b for PATH

The Government will spend $2.4 billion this fiscal year to ensure that students benefiting from the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), continue to receive free lunches three days per week.

This was disclosed by Minister of Education Rev Ronald Thwaites in his contribution to the 2014/15 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

"Can we ask parents to contribute between $45 and $60 per day of the cost of the meal for the other two days?" Rev Thwaites said.

He also noted that the ministry will be providing breakfast and lunch for 138,000 students or 70 per cent of the early-childhood cohort, at a cost of $1.05 billion.

He also pointed out that there is another group of children, which comprises about 30 per cent of the school population, who are not on PATH, but are vulnerable.

"Sometimes they have lunch money, sometimes they do not. For this group, we will expect parents to pay about 50 per cent of the cost of their lunch, whenever they can afford it," Rev Thwaites said.

"We also have children whose families experience a crisis from time to time. we will ask our principals to continue to look out for these children and feed them as and when necessary," he added.

Rev Thwaites also added that the Government will no longer purchase, store, or distribute large quantities of imported commodities, such as tinned corned beef, tinned mackerel, flour, and cornmeal.

He added that the school feeding menu will use, as far as is possible, locally produced protein (such as) meat, peas, beans, and eggs.

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