Healthy Habits Project to Promote Wellness in Belize Schools
The Ministry of Health and Wellness is working with the Ministry of Education to ensure students are provided with healthy meals and snacks in schools. The initiative dubbed Healthy Habits, Healthy Schools, Healthy Belize Project will commence in September in 18 schools across the Belize District. Dr. Melissa Diaz-Musa, Director of Health Services, explained that the project is geared at promoting healthy living to reduce the number of persons diagnosed with non-communicable diseases.
Diaz-Musa sensitization regarding the project will begin with children, parents, and even vendors that sell snacks outside of schools at the start of the new school year. She added that there are several entities partnering with the Ministry to achieve the project’s objectives.
Dr. Melissa Diaz, Director of Public Health and Wellness: “As school reopens we’re going to ensure that we sensitize the parents and that we have meetings with the children as well and do promotions by social media and we’re asking for the media’s help as well for this to be a success. All the schools are in the Belize district but we have included San Pedro and Caye Caulker as well. There are three preschools, nine primary schools and five high schools. We have many partners involved in this project initially. Yes, Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Ministry of Education, both of us are spearheading this project, but the Ministry of Agriculture is also a big part of it and we have collaboration from international NGOs like PAHO, like UNICEF. So we do have many, many different sectors working together to ensure that this is a success. So Ministry of Agriculture had said that they have committed to like the school gardens, as you have mentioned and also we do have the training and the sensitization we’re getting commitment from other agencies as well to help us with that. But we want to pass the message that eating healthy does not necessarily have to be expensive. You can look at the same similar foods that we eat but the way that we prepare it, the portion sizes not adding a lot of salt, not adding a lot of sugar to what we’re drinking or, you know, so there are healthier ways of making similar foods that we’re used to eating. And a part of this initiative will, of course, include also training the cooks at the schools. We’re doing training to vendors outside the school. So we have a full work plan for the next year with the 18 schools involved.”
In 2024, the Ministry is hoping to roll out the initiative country-wide.