MCT to the rescue
Three hundred and thirty Secondary school students who, under normal circumstances, benefit from the Mustique Charitable Trusts (MCT) school meal programme, are set to receive substantial food hampers this week.
These hampers, delivered between this Wednesday, February 10 and Friday, February 12, will assist 30 students in each of 11 Secondary Schools — Adelphi Secondary School, Bethel High School, Buccament Bay Secondary, Sandy Bay Secondary, Thomas Saunders Secondary, North Union Secondary School, Petit Bordel Secondary, George Stephens Secondary, Georgetown Secondary, St Clair Dacon Secondary, and Troumaca Secondary.
The EC$80,000 initiative is a one-off project for students who are unable to receive their daily meals through the MCT’s School Meal Programme due to the ongoing suspension of physical schooling.
Administrative Director at the MCT, Dularie Malcolm, explained that out of concern for the students, the Board of Trustees questioned whether there was anything that could be done, which led to the 2021 Food Hamper Programme.
The Trusts have taken on multiple projects since the pandemic began affecting the lives of Vincentians, including:
providing 15,000 lunches for form five students when they returned to school, securing core text and workbooks to donate to 4030 primary school students in August 2020, and distributing 5000 masks.
“Our mission is to help people in St Vincent and the Grenadines, young people, children and especially with the focus on the less fortunate, the disadvantaged, the indigent,” Malcolm noted.
She said that it is known that Covid-19 has taken some persons who weren’t in this bracket before and placed them there.
“…That bracket that we were trying to help, has increased. So if even more so now, the Trust needs to be active,” the Director stated, and that it was times like this that the non-governmental organisations, and charity sector needs to step up. The large-scale project was implemented in just about a week after they were asked to implement it as soon as possible.
“We spent last week reaching out to all the wholesalers and supermarkets and a couple entrepreneurs to purchase the items,” Malcolm explained, and these entities worked expeditiously to assist them.
Local businesses were engaged in securing cloth bags to contain the hampers, and print the MCT logo on 660 bags.
Graduates of the Technical Institutes who have been involved in previous projects provided their services to complete the packing of the hampers this week under strict protocols following the advice of the health authorities.
Also following strict protocols was the delivery of the hampers to the parents. The guardians came to the schools during the space of a one hour, 30 minute period, and were given the hampers at a small station set up on the outside of the school buildings.
Yesterday, February 11, parents and guardians of the Thomas Saunders Secondary School (TSSS) students collected their parcels from 9 am.
Of those who collected parcels, the guardians who spoke with SEARCHLIGHT revealed their appreciation for the initiative.
A mother of four, who has a 14-year-old daughter attending the TSSS disclosed that she was happy when she heard they would be getting food hampers. Her husband, the sole breadwinner for the family, has been home and not able to find work since the pandemic set in.
“They’re (the children) at home, they eat more than usual, than when they’re in school and with this time in Covid it’s really hard providing for them like before,” the mother said, expressing her gratitude.
On the subject of the effect Covid-19 has had on the family, the matron commented, “…We didn’t expect it. So anything that comes unexpected usually hits you hard. There’s been a lot of set backs but I think we just have to learn to cope with it one day at a time at the moment.”
She and the other parents took home packages containing non-perishable items such as rice, flour, sugar, potatoes, rolled oats, powdered milk, peanut butter, and Crix crackers.
The MCT referred to the Welfare Department’s recommended monthly public assistance allowance, which is $200, and the recommended basic grocery list.