Registration for National Food Distribution Program jumps 3.5k in two days

Registration for National Food Distribution Program jumps 3.5k in two days
Volunteers at the Lend a Hand Food Distribution Centre. (LYFORD CAY CLUB CHARITABLE TRUST)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — More than 3,500 new registrants have applied for the National Food Distribution Program since the prime minister’s address on Sunday, according to the task force’s chairman Susan Larson.

In an interview with Eyewitness News yesterday, Larson indicated that there has been a huge influx in people seeking food assistance over the past two days.

“There are 31,300 households who are registered and just about 3,000 in the last day,” she said.

“And if you take an average of four persons in a household, we’re now talking about over 120,000 people.”

Larson explained that requests are coming from people across the archipelago as the program spans across several zones and NGOs who have responsibility for distribution.

“You would expect where the population centers are to be where we have the highest need,” she further.

“One area, in particular, is in the Nassau City Zone and that’s a very densely populated area of our country, perhaps one of the most densely populated area and the need right in the Downtown Nassau area is very high.”

There are over 25,000 people in that area who have sought assistance from the program, Larson revealed.

“We have those sorts of situations where we have a very high density of people and then we have areas like Bimini and Cat Island and so forth where there are people who are in equal need but it’s not as dense”

On Sunday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis revealed that the government is supporting the National Food Distribution Task Force with $1 million per week to assist more than 110,000 people.

Now entering its 11th week, Minnis announced that the task force will move to restructure aid into three categories: most, moderately and least vulnerable; with assistance to be distributed weekly, bi-weekly, and once a month, respectively.

Yesterday, Larson said, “The pandemic has impacted everybody. It doesn’t matter where you live, who you are you, every walks of life has been impacted by the pandemic.

“But within that we need to determine who are most vulnerable because the scale of the program is so unprecedented that we first and foremost have to be absolutely confident that the people who are who are most vulnerable are receiving assistance.”

She noted that global best practices will be utilized to weigh the vulnerability of individuals and classify them in an objective way.

“Let’s be frank, we need to reduce the number of people who need assistance every week,” she said.

Larson pleaded with members of the community for understanding and patience with workers as they push to get food out to all those in need.

“It does not go smoothly all the time,” she added.

“We wish that it would and we certainly strive for a flawless process, but if everybody can just remember that we are fellow Bahamians just like they are doing their best under very trying circumstances, that many ease everyone’s anxiety a bit.”