Canteen profits no excuse, include vendors for students’ benefit
Minister Dwight Sutherland chatting with members of the Royal Barbados Police Force prior to commencing his Swan Street tour.
The Small Business Minister has broken his silence on the issue of vending at schools to say that vending provides options and vendors should be included, not excluded.
Speaking on the matter for the first time in the wake of the recent situation at Grantley Adams Secondary School in St. Joseph, where vendors were removed from the school's premises, and access to the big pasture was banned to prevent students from pursuing the vendors.
The Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce Dwight Sutherland told the members of the media today, Wednesday, December 12, 2018, "I don’t think that one canteen can serve all of the students at a school, and I heard BARVEN [Barbados Association of Retailers, Vendors and Entrepreneurs] in the background saying it’s impossible.
"But it’s true. I went to Lodge School and I bought ham cutters from the vendors."
The Minister said that as a boy he refused to stand up in a canteen line wasting much precious time. Instead he went to vendors on the periphery because they provided options.
However, he agreed with the Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw that "Vendors need to get on board with the nutritional value of vending.
"So as opposed to eliminating, we have to integrate and make sure they provide nutritional value to the students. And we have the space for all of them in my view."
He said that he has spoken with the Minister of Education and he knows that she has spoken with BARVEN to bring relief shortly. "So we won’t see any more challenges around school vending."
Asked what about the canteen's paying to be part of the school's landscape and their annual profits, the Minister dispelled the notion that vendors eat away said profits.
"People have been doing this for eons and made profits. So you can’t now tell me that you are not making profit at this time, when you were making profit, yes these are tough economic times, but you were making profit before. Let’s work hand-in-hand, Don’t let’s try to eliminate people. Let’s try to integrate people."
He called on all parties to work together to "come up with plans that are beneficial to the students.
"So when you operating a canteen at a school I expect you to make a profit and indeed I bought from canteens but I also bought from the vendors and there were [sic] never any animosity between the vendors and the canteen, cause I would see them cooperating and communicating for the betterment of the student with the product offering."
But he once more reiterated that the vendors must work on improving and abiding by the necessary health standards as well.
The Minister was speaking on the sidelines of his tour through Swan Street and along Bolton Lane in Bridgetown. He used the opportunity to interact with the vendors and hear their concerns.