The interim guidelines for the sale and serving of beverages in public schools have been set, following collaboration between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health.
The move by the Government to restrict the amount of sugar that is contained in drinks sold in schools is aimed at addressing the prevalence of obesity among Jamaica’s school-age population, coupled with the intention to help students make healthier choices.
School administrators have been provided with a list of beverages that are prohibited and those that are permitted, in accordance with the specifics outlined in the guidelines.
In a bulletin issued by the Education Ministry, it was noted that a series of sensitisation sessions were held at regional meetings to enable smooth implementation.
The guidelines prohibit the sale and the serving of beverages that contain more than six grams to 100 milliliters of sugar in all public educational institutions, from early-childhood to secondary level, during regular school hours and at special school activities.
Schools are required to adhere to the standards provided when purchasing beverages from manufacturers, retailers, distributors and other suppliers. Schools will be monitored to ensure adherence to these standards.
Monitoring and evaluation of these guidelines will be administered in partnership with the health ministry’s parish nutritionists and dieticians. However, the regional education officers will be responsible for guiding and monitoring the implementation in collaboration with selected representatives of schools.
Chief Education Officer, Dr. Grace McLean, said that as schools go through the transition to implement these guidelines, the Ministry is cognisant of the possible issues that may arise and, therefore, will be using the remaining two terms of the 2018/2019 academic year to make this significant shift towards making the children healthy.
Cabinet has approved the interim guidelines for beverages in schools, which took effect on January 1, 2019 and will gradually reduce the portions over a five-year period.
By: Claude Mills