In the mid nineteen thirties, a nutrition scheme was started in all elementary schools. Three-eighth (3/8) pint of milk and two biscuits were served as a mid-morning snack to each child and this has continued over the years in spite of the introduction of school meals at mid-day. The nutrition scheme was modified after the school lunch programme was initiated and all children were allowed the 3/8 pint of milk but only those children who did not take school meals were served with biscuits. Today, milk continues to be an integral part of the school feeding programme but biscuits are served only at the Nursery Schools.
In July 1962, consideration was given to the establishment of a service to provide a hot meal for children in Primary Schools. Thus March 1963 saw the beginning of the School Meals Programme to serve a hot meal to all children in Primary Schools.
The following Centres were opened as a pilot scheme.
- Westbury Centre, St. Michael
- St. Clement's Centre, St. Lucy
- St. Christopher Centre, Christ Church
In 1965, the Gun Hill Centre was opened in St. George and in 1969 the Summervale Centre was opened in St. Philip and the Reed Street Centre in St. Michael. Total participation at the six (6) Centres was now 13,000 children drawn from fifty-eight (58) schools. In 1970, the School Meals Office was established within the Ministry of Education with a staff of thirty-two (32). The following year office was transitioned to a separate department of the Ministry of Education and re-located to the present site at 'Palm Villa' Country Road, St. Michael.
In 1974, the Country Road Centre was opened and by that time participation in the school feeding programme was up to 24,000 students. The total staff of the department was now 602. By 1976, the total number of schools served was 119 with the preparation of 34 000 meals daily. The Gun Hill Centre was closed in August 1979 whilst the Reed Street Centre was closed in March 1983. In 1984, the warehouse at the Harbour Road was converted to a Centre and the operations of the Westbury Centre were transferred to this new location. The number of Centres was now reduced to five (5).
The 1980's and early 1990's saw a period of closure of schools and amalgamation of existing schools, so that by July 1995, the schools participating in the school feeding programme numbered 93 and the average number of meals served daily was 24,000.
The schools participating in the programme include government primary schools as well as the lone Senior School and private institutions such as the Learning Centre, the Challenor School and the St. Patrick's Roman Catholic School. Lunches are also served to selected students at some secondary schools.