Let’s Improve School Lunches in Cuba

By Ernesto Perez Castillo  (Progreso Weekly) 

Foto: The UN World Food Program in Cuba

HAVANA TIMES – Lunch will be lunch until proven otherwise. Everyone desires to eat it on time, and nice and warm. But to dream, no matter what you call it, is costly, and sometimes dreaming can cost way too much. 

The lunch I speak of came to mind when I heard Cuba’s Minister of Education say that starting September 2nd more than 1.7 million students would be attending classes this year. I thought of those students’ lunches and how much it would cost to feed them.

The minister’s figure covers primary, secondary and almost everything that follows and up to the university level, but as a rule, only students up to 6th Grade receive school lunches. A few years back that number was about 800,000 students, according to the Office of National Statistics. The number is probably higher now, but I’ll use it to speculate.

Truth is that only those students who reside too far from school receive lunch every school day, so for this kind of quick study, let us reduce that number to 500,000 children, which rounds it nicely and allows for easier calculations.

So, basing it on a very low estimate… let’s say lunch costs one Cuban peso per student, which represents 500,000 Cuban pesos a day.  (1 peso = 0.05 USD)

And what are we feeding our kids? I asked my son, my daughter and one of their friends who explained that they eat rice every day; there’s always some kind of stew with some sort of bean or split pea, and occasionally a piece of ham or some ground beef, but rarely do they get a potato or root vegetable, and once in a blue moon they might see a vegetable or fruit.

But my son complains that he doesn’t like the lunch they are served, so does my daughter and their friend, and most everyone else, for that matter. I am not surprised: schools cook everything with only salt; there’s not a green pepper, or an onion, not even a garlic clove to throw in the casserole. Not a thing to give the meal some flavor.

Sure, there will always be the one student who eats everything on his tray and then requests seconds, but most others, as soon as they can, throw out their lunch. Let us not generalize and say that only half throw their lunch away. That is 250,000 lunches tossed, or 250,000 pesos that are thrown out daily.

If we estimate about 20 class days monthly, this comes to 5 million pesos a month. Multiply that by 10 months and we are talking about 50 million pesos discarded in the trash, which translates to about US $2 million a year. In pesos or dollars, it’s wasteful, and scary.

Shouldn’t we consider a solution to this problem? And I am not suggesting suspension of lunches, but quite the opposite… what about improving them. How about investing a bit more on school lunches instead of throwing money away on a daily basis?

Yes, it would be more costly, but we would be wasting less; and on top of that, our children would be better fed. The other option is to keep doing what we are doing. In other words, close our eyes to the piles of money being wasted yearly on school lunches, whatever that real dollar figure might be, where tons of rice and beans end up in the trash bin.

12 thoughts on “Let’s Improve School Lunches in Cuba

  • Whatever they are getting, they are getting 10 times better than North Korea.

  • …which really shouldn’t prove all that difficult, now that there is no more USSR to bail them out.

    Speaking of which, from where DOES the Cuban ruling class obtain its arms anyway these days?

  • That awakening to reality can not occur until Raul, too, is gone. I’m not very optimistic of it occurring even after that takes place, either!

  • Let them eat more of Fidel’s famous “grapefruit steaks” LOL

  • …or maybe to Angola, for which so many Cubans died, merely in order to satisfy a single man’s megalomania!

  • Cuba has the necessary conditions to be virtually self-sufficient in food – the stumbling block is the imposed communist system which inevitably leads to ever-declining levels of production and ever-increasing need for imports. Incompetence is demonstrable.
    Although posing as being against all that the US “enemy” represents, Cuba imports very substantial volumes of food from that country – whether that is a consequence of lack of choice or corruption within the purchasing agency is debatable,
    But the frozen chicken legs from Tyson are certainly preferable to the frozen ostrich legs from Argentina.

  • Frankly, I am surprised that the government offers any lunches. Cuba does produce sweet potatoes and root plants so it should not be difficult to provide these nutrients unless they are exported elsewhere?

  • Mr mgutedew comment does not make sense..anyway…until the Castro- Canal regime is totally struck by lightening and awakens to the reality that socialism DOES NOT WORK, then the children will be eating more and more less nutritional meals at lunch time while the Fat Cats in the govt eat savory dishes prepared especially for them. Why won’t the govt prepare food that tastes good so that the kids will not toss out? The govt likes to waste money it does not have..??

  • Yup remove the Castro’s from power

  • Send the children to Venezuela so they can have a better life. Since Cuba has given so much to the Venezuelan people.

  • The only form of school lunch I have observed over several years in Cuba, is a sandwich in the form of a hamburger bun and yoghurt. Obviously from the article, there are some places where students have a the good fortune to have a wider menu. In consequence, one wonders who takes the decisions of what to feed whom and where. As for many Cuban children, the school lunch forms a significant part of their nutrition, one has to agree with Ernesto Perez Castillo that it would be a good idea to improve them.

  • Let’s improve everything in Cuba.

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