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AMEXCID and FAO Facilitate School Feeding Training in Belize



#Belize, December 29, 2023 – In an effort to strengthen the capacity of individuals involved in school feeding programs and promote healthy eating habits among school children, the Belizean component of the Mesoamerica Hunger-Free AMEXCID-FAO program conducted a series of training sessions. These included virtual sessions held on November 21st, 28th, and December 6th, and in-person cook training sessions on December 9th and 16th. The sessions brought together a diverse group of participants, including school principals, cooks, PTA members, school staff, and Ministry of Education personnel within the government feeding programs –  National Healthy Start school feeding program (primary schools) and the Education Upliftment program (high schools).

The three virtual training sessions were specifically designed to enhance the capabilities and skills of officials responsible for the School Feeding Program. These sessions were crucial in facilitating the expansion of school feeding programs, school gardens, and nutrition education within the education curriculum.

The key objectives included providing an overview of healthy school environments, emphasizing the importance of school feeding to children’s health, reviewing food health and safety protocols in school kitchens, and introducing basic nutrition needs for students.

The inaugural session, conducted by Cathleen Juan, Mesoamerica Hunger-Free AMEXCID-FAO and School Feeding Coordinator, covered topics such as the introduction of the term “Healthy School Environment,” components of such an environment, an overview of diet-related non-communicable diseases, statistics on overweight/obesity, and the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among school children in Belize. Additionally, discussions on ultra processed foods, reading food labels, and healthy alternatives for school snacks were presented.

Led by Ms. Lisa Marin Sanchez, Senior Public Health Inspector from the Ministry of Health, the second session covered topics such as food handler’s responsibilities, types of contamination and prevention measures, personal hygiene and handwashing, purchasing safe food, proper food storage, and safe food preparation and cooking practices, with a focus on time and temperature controls. One of the most insightful takeaways from Ms. Lisa’s session was her revelation about the most common food safety infraction observed in kitchens: the lack of temperature controls.

The third and final virtual session, held on December 6th, featured Doris Sutherland, nutritionist from FAO Belize, who offered a deep dive into essential topics, such as an overview of food groups and appropriate portion sizes, the nutritional significance of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and staples in a child’s diet, and an introduction to the school feeding menu. The session also provided valuable insights into menu planning, recipe formats, ingredient substitution, and methods to encourage children to embrace fruits and vegetables.

The Program’s emphasis on inclusivity, evidenced by the virtual format accommodating even those from areas with limited resources, underscores its dedication to making a meaningful impact on school feeding programs across Belize.

Following the virtual sessions, in-person training was conducted for school feeding head cooks, focusing on nutrition, food safety, school menus, and utilizing local produce. These sessions took place at Ladyville Technical High School, Belize District with participation from 16 schools across four districts.

During these in-person sessions, cooks practiced calculating ingredients for 100 children and learned about the ice water calibration method for thermometers. They were divided into groups to prepare various dishes, highlighting the use of vegetables and the absence of added sugar in flavorful recipes. Each school represented was given two thermometers for their kitchen.

These training sessions have successfully equipped participants with a deeper understanding of the significance of healthy food choices and food safety practices in the context of school feeding, reinforcing the valuable lessons learned and ensuring a brighter, healthier future for Belizean schoolchildren.

The Mesoamerica Hunger-Free AMEXCID-FAO program remains committed to fostering a comprehensive understanding of aspects to promote healthier school environments and, consequently, the well-being of the children involved, promoting public policies in favor of food and nutritional security in the country.


Caption: The objectives of the cook training sessions were to familiarize cooks with the recipe structure used in the menus (standardized for 50 servings), teach cooks to use the menu planning tool in the school kitchen protocol book, instruct on the use of thermometers during food preparation, and introduce new ways of preparing local fruits and vegetables.

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Bob Marley – One Love Actor Endorses Black River Film Festival



#MontegoBay, May 27, 2024 – The inaugural staging of the Black River Film Festival (BRFF), set for June 28 to 30, is being welcomed by local actor, Cornelius Orlando Grant, who sees the potential of the event in unearthing local talent and attracting investment from the international film industry.

Addressing a recent JIS Think Tank held at the agency’s Montego Bay Regional Office, Mr. Grant, who stars as gangster Bucky Marshall in the Bob Marley – One Love biopic, said the BRFF could leverage the interest and attention being generated towards Jamaica and its film industry following the premiere of the movie.

“Look at it this way, the Prince (Harry) came to the premiere and his presence attracted extra attention to [the film industry]. The Bob Marley movie is creating and breaking more records… . Just recently it opened in Japan [where]… reggae music and Bob Marley have a big fan base. Furthermore, people in the [diaspora] that I spoke to are saying that when they view the movie, it brought them vibes of home,” he noted.

Mr. Grant said that with Jamaica being positioned as the hub of the Caribbean film industry and with the increasing number of young persons emerging as content creators, “I think now is the time that we can capitalise on this. The Black River Film Festival is doing just that because it is not only incorporating new content creators but also showing students new career possibilities”.

Young content creators, 14 to 18 years old, who wish to enter or are already practitioners in the field of filmmaking will benefit from masterclass sessions during the Festival.

Mr. Grant will be among the speakers during these sessions.

The Ministry of Education, Region 5 will be partnering with the Festival producers at a workshop to be held at St. Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) in Santa Cruz on June 28.


Photo Caption: Jamaican actor, Cornelus Orlando Grant, gives his support to the Black River Film Festival (BRFF), while addressing a recent Think Tank at the Jamaica Information Service Montego Bay Regional Office in St. James.

Okoye Henry Photo


Contact: Sharon Earle

Release: JIS

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May 21, 2024 – The Turks and Caicos Islands have clear laws prohibiting the possession of firearms and or ammunition without a licence and strict penalties in order to serve and protect the community. Our Firearms Ordinance, which was amended in 2022, states that:

No person (other than a licensed gunsmith in the course of his trade) shall have in his possession, discharge or use any firearm or ammunition unless he is the holder of a firearm licence with respect to such firearm, or in case of ammunition he is the holder of a licence for a firearm which takes that ammunition.

Firearm and/or ammunition offences carry a mandatory minimum custodial sentence of twelve years plus a fine. Where a court finds there are exceptional circumstances, the sentencing judge has discretion, under the law, to impose a custodial sentence and a fine that are fair and just in the circumstances of each case rather than impose the mandatory minimum.

The Chief Justice is advancing sentencing guidelines in respect of the application of exceptional circumstances. Wider work is also ongoing with criminal justice partners to review the efficiency and effectiveness of case progression, in driving justice outcomes.

It is the traveller’s responsibility to ensure their baggage is free of firearms and/or ammunition. Permission from an airline carrier does not constitute permission to bring firearms or ammunition into the Turks and Caicos Islands. Travellers are also strongly advised to search their luggage before they travel to the Turks and Caicos Islands to ensure they do not bring in forbidden items inadvertently. Such offences will result in arrest.

The Turks and Caicos Islands is a British Overseas Territory with a common law legal system, and reserves the right to enforce its laws. All persons, including visitors, must follow lawful process.

The Turks and Caicos Islands welcomes all visitors but reminds travellers that persons in the Turks and Caicos Islands do not have a constitutional right to carry firearms. Equally, the importation of firearms, ammunition (including stray bullets), and other weapons is strictly forbidden, unless licence to do so has been issued by the Commissioner of Police.

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CTO to Focus on Aviation at Caribbean Week in New York



New York (May 16, 2024) – Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is set to spotlight the future of Caribbean aviation during Caribbean Week in New York, scheduled for June 16-21, 2024, at the InterContinental Times Square in midtown Manhattan.

Under CTO’s annual theme “Connecting the Globe, Celebrating Diversity”, the week promises a diverse lineup of activities emphasizing innovation and connectivity.

A key feature of the premier event for travel industry professionals, journalists and members of the Caribbean Diaspora will be the Caribbean Airlift Forum.

Rosa Harris, Chairman of the CTO Board of Directors and Spokesperson for Caribbean Week, will moderate the forum. She emphasized the importance of this session as a critical platform for discussing the challenges and opportunities in Caribbean air transportation.

The session will cover topics including route development, aviation competitiveness, partnerships, infrastructure investment, regulatory frameworks, and market demand strategies. It aims to foster dialogue among airlines, airports, tourism authorities, and aviation ministries, enhancing connectivity and optimizing access to Caribbean destinations.

“In the wake of the pandemic, Caribbean aviation has shown remarkable resilience and adaptability, rebounding strongly in key areas. However, as we celebrate these gains during our Caribbean Week in New York, it’s crucial that we don’t become complacent,” stated Harris.

“We must continue to innovate and address the persistent challenges within intra-regional tourism, which, while recovering, remains a challenge for many of our destinations,” she continued. “Our focus at the Caribbean Airlift Forum is not only on celebrating our successes but also on critically analyzing our challenges to strengthen and diversify our connections to, from and across the region, ensuring a more robust and connected Caribbean.”

The week also features a Business and Tourism Marketing Symposium, the Caribbean Media Awards, and sessions focused on artificial intelligence, crisis communications, and multicultural marketing.

With the support of headline sponsor, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation; gold sponsors Cayman Islands Department of Tourism and the United States Virgin Islands Department of Tourism; and Diamonds International and the Caribbean Media Exchange, Caribbean Week in New York 2024 is poised to be a pivotal meeting for tourism professionals and stakeholders in the region and the Diaspora.

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