Cabinet reviewing rental assistance program, says Minnis
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced in a national address on Monday the government will appoint a food security task force to ensure “every Bahamian and resident who needs food is provided with adequate” supply.
He called the initiative a “major and fundamental priority”.
While he did not name them, the prime minister said a chairperson will be appointed to head the taskforce.
“The Ministry of Health knew that due to the COVID-19 pandemic there would be a need for the government to facilitate access to food and food supplies to our population already at risk for food insecurity and hunger,” Minnis said.
“Additionally, these measures were also needed to help those at-risk for hunger due to loss of income and employment.
“While the Ministry of Social Services is providing food vouchers and the National Insurance Board is providing some assistance for those previously engaged in the formal tourism economy, it was understood that there would be additional food needs for those who were outside of the formal economy or who would not apply or qualify for certain assistance.”
Minnis said the taskforce will also make recommendations to increase food production in The Bahamas through the Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute (BAMSI), farmers’ markets, backyard farming and community gardens.
He said he will expound on domestic food production in the coming weeks.
According to the prime minister, the Ministry of Health brought together governmental and non-governmental agencies, along with private sector companies, to examine the issue of food insecurity and mobilize resources to mitigate the challenge.
He also commended private sector donors, including Atlantis and Baha Mar, among others inside and outside the hotel industry, for their delivery of food supplies, cooked meals, grocery packages, and fresh produce to those in need in Abaco, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera and New Providence.
He said over the last week, the Bahamas Feeding Network distributed $40,000 in food vouchers and between $10,000 and $15,000 in food parcels; Hands for Hunger distributed 50,000 pounds of donated food, $5,000 in non-perishables; and were budgeting around $20,000 for food vouchers.
“We encourage others to donate food,” the prime minister said.
“The Food Security Taskforce will indicate how such donations can be made.”
The prime minister also touched on rental assistance as he acknowledged the financial challenges residents face.
He said Cabinet was still reviewing the proposed rental assistance program and once finalized it will be announced.
“I know that many Bahamians are concerned about their finances and are scared about what the future holds,” he said.
“I know that many of you are still waiting on unemployment and other assistance.
“I assure you that we are working around-the-clock to get you the helping hands and the assistance you need.
“We are going to help you. We will help you.”