The minister said $1,700,000 will be spent on food, water and refreshment this year, a significant reduction compared to the $2,760,000 which was spent last year.
During his contributions to the Budget Debate Browne said this is due to efforts by the management staff to ”cut excesses and renegotiate arrangements”.
The minister said $300,000 was also saved when government took the decision to cut back on bottled water last year. Monies were also saved on the purchase of food and refreshments.
In September last year, Chief Executive Officer and Operations Manager, Samuel Spencer announced a series of measures which would be taken to cut back on the cost of operating school meals.
The operators notified parents they would have to provide the 3,300 students accessing the programme with their own drinking water as they were reviewing the practice of providing the commodity.
“We spend approximately $600,000 in water per year. That is something we have been looking at for quite a while and the time has come now that we have to seriously make a decision,” Spencer said previously.
The management team also made recommendations for the staff complement at the schools meals be reviewed, coupled with a revision of the menu, transportation and equipment.
The education minister said upon taking office, the national school meals operational budget was over $7 million and of that amount $3,510,884.00 was earmarked for salaries and wages alone for a staff of 155.
He pointed out an additional $2, 22,370 for additional remuneration.
Browne said immediately after he reviewed the expenditures, he met with the management and gave them directives to implement certain measures to cut cost and to increase revenues at the earliest.
He noted: “Even though we have cut, it does not mean that we have cut services. This year we are going to acquire two lunch box trucks through the skillful and careful negotiation of the management team and we are going to get a third one.