JN Foundation grants $1.5 million to Cross Keys development projects

Mandeville Jamaica National (JN) Circle President Wendy Freckleton (second right) presenting a funding approval certificate to Cross Keys Development Area Committee Chairman Smeadley Reid (second left) at the Cross Keys Community Centre recently. With them are Venessa Dillon-Hendricks (left), client relationship officer for Jamaica National Bank’s Mandeville and Christiana branches; and Nicole Clarke, member of the Mandeville JN Circle

CROSS KEYS, Manchester — Residents of Cross Keys and surrounding communities are set to benefit from a $1.5-million grant from
JN Foundation to boost an agro-processing facility and improve a community centre.

Chairman of the Cross Keys Development Area Committee Smeadley Reid told the Jamaica Observer on Thursday that the project will assist in growing a community-based economic initiative.

“We had done a two-component grant request for assistance with our local economic initiative, which is our plantain chips project at an agro-processing facility and to add some seating to the Cross Keys Community Centre,” said Reid.

The agro-processing facility, which was recently renovated by the Manchester Parish Development Committee, through funding from the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica, is expected to manufacture a diversity of chips and food items in the coming months.

“Presently, we are only involved in the plantain chips production, but we intend to diversify that, and we want to do sweet potato chips and cassava chips. We also want to gravitate to doing ketchup,” added Reid.

He said the grant will go a long way in improving the facility, which has a seven-member production team from the Cross Keys Development Area.

The onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic two years ago had dwindled the facility’s production level.

“Before COVID-19 we did some 400 pounds per month of plantain. When COVID-19 hit, it reduced our production to about 200 pounds and then it went down further. We are hoping that very shortly we will regain high production levels,” said Reid.

He noted that the grant will also be used to expand the Cross Keys Community Centre’s play field into a pavilion.

According to Reid, residents from four communities, comprising 25 districts, utilise the facility, which hosts community sporting leagues annually.

He anticipates that by the end of June both projects will be completed.

Reid commended president of the Mandeville JN Circle Wendy Freckleton for submitting the initiative to the JN Foundation.

“She helped us land this grant. We believe strongly that with this grant we will be able to turn around our production process to produce more and involve more people so that the greater community can be served,” declared Reid.

Author: Kasey Williams