A newly formed charity has begun delivering food packages to people made jobless by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The packages, valued at $150, are the product of an initiative in which a group of private citizens and the Rotary Club of Barbados have partnered with the Salvation Army which will act as the point of contact.
The charity, COVID-19 Essentials was started about five weeks ago with the intention to help feed families who have lost jobs due to the pandemic, said project manager Monique Archer. She said the Club has thus far raised $270,000 and is appealing to other citizens and businesses to make contributions to the cause.
A warehouse that was made available has been stocked with contributions from wholesalers across the island, with goods distributors Brydens and ANSA McAl pledging to provide a couple of hundred baskets to feed families over 15 weeks, she said.
Archer said: “Kelvin Alkins Customs Service has put forward his transportation for the length of the project.
“We anticipate providing these packages for anywhere between three to six months. It may be longer; we don’t know the full impact.
“Basically, it’s a food basket that will feed a family of four for about ten days. It’s all non-perishable goods and we handled the packaging of everything at our warehouse and then we handled the transportation to all of the distribution points.”
About 200 families are to receive the first food packages, said the charity’s manager, adding that the overall goal is to reach 2,000 households once the funds and donations continue to become available.
Captain Dwayne Broome of the Salvation Army Speightstown Corps where the brief presentation took place this evening, said the church was happy to work with the COVID-19 Essentials team to assist families during the crisis.
The Salvation Army is using seven of its locations across the island to distribute the package, he added.
Captain Broome said: “We are specifically catering for those who have been laid off from work and finding it difficult now to earn an income to provide for their families. So the Salvation Army is very proud to be part of it. We thank the Rotary Club and the COVID-19 team for thinking of us and trusting us to execute this job. As you can see persons are already coming to receive their hampers. So we have done our groundwork and we are looking forward to the weeks ahead to be the best we can be for our fellow citizens.”
Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Colin Jordan, the MP for St Peter, commended the third sector organization for stepping in at this time to help newly-vulnerable Barbadians.
He said: “We commend them for really being forward-thinking, recognizing that this is an area that needs to be looked after. If you think about it persons who normally receive a paycheck at the end of the week or at the end of the month, that person when they lose their job, there is a psychological impact on that person and I think for COVID-19 Essentials to create a programme that particularly focuses on those people will help them from a perspective of putting food on the table and also a psychological perspective.
“I really believe that this response from COVID-19 essentials addresses those particular issues that would come to the fore at this time. I really thank Monique Archer and those who have come together to support her initiative,” Jordan said.