First Citizens Investment Services announced on Monday its pledge to support the strengthening of Saint Lucia’s School Feeding Programme and the United Nations “Zero Hunger Challenge.” The company has donated EC$15,000 specifically to the Richfond Combined School which will go toward the construction of school gardens on the compound and supply fresh, local, healthy food for the programme.
The establishment of school gardens is part of a pilot project launched by the Government of Saint Lucia and spearheaded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Production, Fisheries, Co-operatives and Rural Development which will target specific schools. First Citizens has endorsed the aim of the effort which is to assist in halving current levels of poverty and malnutrition. This will include training teachers and students in sustainable farming and also includes the repairing of kitchens and the purchase of equipment for the schools where the kitchens are not up to standard.
Speaking at the launch of the “Zero Hunger Challenge” and the official signing ceremony for MOUs for the School Feeding Programme on Monday in the Cabinet Room of the Prime Minister’s office, First Citizens Regional Manager Mrs. Carole Eleuthere-Jn Marie explained that the company was especially honoured to be part of the programme.
“We applaud the Government of Saint Lucia for its efforts at ensuring our young people’s rights, needs and aspirations are incorporated into St Lucia’s poverty reduction strategies,” said Mrs. Eleuthere-Jn Marie. “First Citizens is pleased, humbly so, to commit to this investment to create a healthy environment where our children can grow and flourish without the worry of where their next meal is coming from.”
She noted the First Citizens Group’s strong support for youth development programmes in the region and also highlighted its commitment to increasing financial literacy.
Mrs. Eleuthere-Jn Marie commended the ministries of Agriculture, Education, Health and Social Transformation for the collaborative effort to ensure this pilot project is given the attention it deserves. She also called on other private sector companies to join the fight to “eliminate hunger in our lifetimes.”
Prime Minister the Honourable Dr. Kenny Anthony thanked First Citizens and other private sector partners for supporting the initiative.
“This programme is a wonderful statement of collaboration,” said Dr Anthony. “It is very pleasing that the private sector has embraced this. It is great that they saw the logic and the reason and decided to come on board.”
The Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Moses Charles, was effusive with praise for companies that supported the programme while Chief Agricultural Planning Officer Ms. Sunita Daniel also said she was heartened at the response from organizations such as First Citizens.
The UN “Zero Hunger Challenge” has five main aims: zero stunted children less than 2 years, 100% access to adequate food all year round, sustainable food systems, 100% increase in smallholder productivity and income and zero loss or waste of food.