Analysis: More than $25M for free school meals from 2021-2023

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The PACT government estimates it will spend more than $25 million on the free school meals programme from Sept. 2021 through Dec. 2023.

The government’s ‘purchase agreements’ budget document lists 12 vendors who will be paid to provide the meals, and the schools for which they are responsible. Vendors include private companies and individual schools’ Parent Teacher Associations.

In September, Minister of Education Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said in Finance Committee that the programme would start in public primary schools immediately and then be rolled out to public secondary schools in January 2022.

However, the purchase agreements do not appear to contain funds for secondary schools until January 2023.

The government expects to spend $3.1 million on the programme in 2021, $7.4 million in 2022 and $14.9 million in 2023.

Catering company Mise en Place tops the list of vendors, with an projected cost of $5.8 million in 2023. That comprises nearly 40% of that year’s budget for the programme, which corresponds to the company providing meals to about 40% of the students.

Under the agreement, Mise en Place is to provide meals for George Town and Red Bay Primary Schools, the Lighthouse School and John Gray High School — nearly 2,100 students in all.

Second on the list is the Clifton Hunter High School PTA, which is set to receive up to $2.2 million to provide meals to nearly 800 students.

Vendors will be paid according to how many meals they actually serve.

The purchase agreements set a maximum total amount that vendors can charge the government, and include standard prices for breakfast, lunch, snacks and drinks. Vendors will submit their invoices to government on a biweekly basis.

The budget for primary schools is $4 for breakfast, $5 for lunch, $3 for snack and $4 for two drinks. Prices are the same for the Lighthouse School, except lunch is $5.50. (The specialist Lighthouse School has both primary- and secondary- aged students.)

For secondary schools, the budget is $4 for breakfast, $7 for lunch, $2 for snack and $4 for two drinks.

Here is a list of the vendors, the schools they serve and their projected costs:

VendorSchools2021 cost2022 cost2023 cost2021 students2022 students2023 students
Mise en PlaceGeorge Town, Red Bay, Lighthouse, John Gray$956,228$2,330,200$5,815,4708431,9452,093
Clifton Hunter PTAClifton Hunter$2,211,690795
JLM Food ServicesProspect, Theoline McCoy$704,320$1,732,811$1,845,600618620640
Sir John A Cumber PTAJohn Cumber$580,496$1,303,440$1,330,800510511520
Joanna Clarke PTAJoanna Clarke$475,984$1,153,760$1,117,537418419428
Top Taste RestaurantGrand Cayman$110,192$293,420$925,93496314323
Tropical DeliteLayman Scott$453,466163
Blue BreezeCreeek and Spot Bay$110,192$294,880$355,8769797118
Dual EntriesDual Entries$353,314127
Real Meals KitchenEast End$85,200$178,000$258,400757585
ParadiseWest End$78,384$150,640$231,040666676
Little CaymanLittle Cayman$9,120$9,12033

(Editor’s Note: The purchase agreements have information on every public school except for Edna Moyle Primary School and the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre — although there is an item for the ‘Dual Entries’ programme, where Year 12 public school students either pursue an Associate Degree at UCCI or A Levels at a private school. The purchase agreement for one vendor, Top Taste Restaurant, did not specify a particular school, but the number of students it serves are in the ballpark for Edna Moyle and CIFEC.)

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