By Kamal Haynes, BVI News Staff
Administrators of Elmore Stoutt High School (ESHS) are assuring parents that concerns about high prices and unhealthy foods being offered by some vendors at the school’s two locations are being addressed.
On Friday, September 13, a parent who spoke on condition of anonymity told BVI News that she and several other parents were outraged by the cost and quality of lunches available to children at ESHS.
The mother of two, whose children are in the senior and junior school respectively, said that during the first week of school, parents have had to be leaving their jobs to bring food for their children on a daily basis
“I’ve been to that school for the past three days having to take lunch for my son in the junior high and you should see the amount of parents that are there trying to get lunch to their kids. I thought it was only myself that was complaining. But then speaking to the other parents, they were saying they don’t know what to do because they were promised that affordable vendors and healthy foods would be available to the children,” she said.
The parent also said some students of the senior school were made to eat in the sun since most could not fit under the two tents provided just outside of on the school compound.
She also said only three vendors are available on the school’s property and this limited number has resulted in some students having limited time to eat after waiting long periods for their food.
Pricing and Food Quality to be handled by Ministry
When BVI News spoke to the school’s Pastoral Principal, Donna Clyne-Thomas, about the issue, she explained that some of the vendors were not sticking to the terms that were agreed with the school. But she assured that the Ministry of Education will be working to get those issues fixed.
“The school shares the concern for some of the pricing and those need to be fixed. I don’t know how far it’s gone but we are aware that some of the pricing is high and we aren’t supporting it because students should not have to pay those fees.”
Clyne-Thomas further said the majority of vendors at the high school had reasonable prices ranging from $5 to $7 for students and also provided a healthy menu option to choose from. She added that It was only a few of the vendors who were selling the fast-food type meals and at prices above the standard expected for children.
Vendors shortage no more!
She also admitted that there was a shortage of vendors during the first week but confirmed that the issue had been rectified since.
“In the beginning, we did have a shortage of vendors only because the vendors needed to be set up and get themselves ready to meet our need. As of today (September 16), I spent the whole day on the junior school campus. We have 11 vendors,. Lunch went beautifully well, the lines were not long and within 20-30 minutes, everyone got some kind of lunch. Maybe they were complaining because things weren’t perfect the first few days last week,” Mrs Clyne-Thomas stated.
She further said that during the shortage at the senior campus in Pasea Estate, students were allowed to get food by the nearby RiteWay Food Store if accompanied by a teacher.
Children have options on where to eat
The Pastoral Principal, however, denied claims that students were made to eat outside in the sun and revealed that there were other options made available for them.
“That’s not true,” she said while responding to the claim. “We have the entire ground floor of classrooms opened for them to eat. Those students are in the sun because they want to be talking in their little cliques. The school is open and have classrooms available for them.”
Response by vendors
BVI News also spoke to a number of vendors at the senior division to get an idea of their menus being offered to the students. All the vendors our news centre interviewed with had prices ranging from $5 to $7.
Jay Thompson of Good Eats Catering said she provides a variety of healthy foods on a daily basis and said the students were happy with the prices.
“It is phenomenal and overwhelming, I am getting good feedback from the kids. When I tell them they are getting mutton, macaroni, rice, pasta, coleslaw and plantain for $7. They can’t believe it,” Thomas said.
Thomas who has a son in the 10th grade said having outrageous prices for students is not good for business.
“I’ve been hearing complaints that some people are charging $12 to $14 and at the end of the day they are kids. So if you want them to come back, you have to set a better price,” Thomas added.
Rosey Catering Services offers a variety of foods in small or large portions, at $5 and $7 respectively. These include oxtail, curry chicken, lasagne, barbequed chicken, shrimp alfredo and local drinks.
This is the second time since the beginning of the new school year that the ESHS has faced criticism from parents on a public platform.
Just last week a parent took to social media to question the school on their rules regarding the uniform dress code for females. The school has since rubbished those claims.
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