By: Peter Ivey and Karetta Crooks Charles
The lives of 16 canteen workers, parents and teachers at the St. John’s Primary School will never be the same again after two intense days of learning about food insecurity and how to use local foods to make creative, nutritious and low budget dishes. However, according to the CEO of The Reggae Chefs Peter Ivey, it is the students identified as ‘the neediest’ affected by food insecurity who will benefit the most from the newly acquired skills of the trainees. The 2-day training which formed part of Mission:FoodPossible (M:FP) 2018 was piloted at the St. John’s Primary School on October 18th and 19th, a few days after the observance of World Food Day.
As fate would have it our very first piece as co-writers for WhereItzAt featured the launch of Mission:FoodPossible which had its genesis on October 15, 2017, on the eve of World Food Day. The inaugural:FoodPossible raised awareness about food insecurity; shared informational brochures with recipes of nutritious meals that can be prepared on a low budget with indigenous produce such as callaloo, ackee, and breadfruit to feed 600 beneficiaries with these chef-inspired meals. Realizing the importance of agriculture in the fight against hunger and food insecurity, Mission:FoodPossible also partnered with local farmers whose excess crops were utilized in a bid to minimize food wastage and loss.
One year later, M:FP has evolved into a more impactful project considering that Ivey and his team from The Reggae Chefs (TRC) and The League of International Chefs Association (TLICA) added another component to the project for 2018—the creation of the ‘Most Valuable Produce’ (MVP) scoring guide to determine what crops are considered the most valuable. Ivey said, “My co-trainer, Chef Patrice Harris-Henry, and I believe that this training stands on three pillars: to educate the community, empower the community and sustain our community. We are empowering the community with our MVP scoring guide, this will ensure that those who are food insecure understand how to better access and utilize Jamaica’s indigenous foods in creative ways.”
During the closing ceremony on day two, participants were given an opportunity to share their views on the training received. An abundance of commendations were given to the TRC and TLICA team. A brief speech by the daughter of a participant really summed it up nicely, when she thanked the team for giving her mother and all the participants a greater sense of purpose during the two-day course. She went on to describe the significance placed on the course by her mother, who she said went home to study after day one in preparation for her quiz and carried out further research on YouTube based on what was taught. She closed by saying that her mother and all the canteen workers could now proudly display their certificates on their walls as a result of participating in this valuable training. Thereafter, the creative and unique meals prepared by the participants using their newly found skills and knowledge of the MVPs were shared during the closing ceremony with teachers, students and the participants’ families who came to show their support.
Additionally, in an effort to raise awareness about food insecurity to the wider community, Ivey presented this timely project to 200 people at a Mission:FoodPossible Square Table Talk organized by the Kiwanis Club of North St. Andrew on October 18th. According to Ivey, “Presenting the project in Kingston, which represents the pulse of Jamaica and the Caribbean, made a strong case for the importance of M:FP in addressing this global scourge of food insecurity, especially among our children. The format of the meeting allowed us to answer numerous questions from the audience, and I believe we successfully conveyed the need for the agricultural industry as well as those involved in the food industry to creatively use local foods to tackle food insecurity and poverty.”
Considering the World Food Day 2018 theme, ‘Our Actions are our Future. A #ZeroHunger World by 2030 is Possible’, Ivey and his team’s next Mission:FoodPossible actions are to include these chef-inspired meals created with Jamaica’s MVPs in the feeding program at St. John’s Primary as well as the creation of a school garden to support the sustainability of the program. The team hopes that M:FP will be replicated across the Caribbean and the rest of the world in a bid to remove the shame experienced by people, especially the most vulnerable, affected by hunger and food insecurity. For information about Mission:FoodPossible call Peter Ivey at 917 567 5216.