Food For The Poor Responds to Coronavirus Food Crisis
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (April 24, 2020) Food For The Poor is taking immediate steps to ensure the poor in the countries it serves have a reliable food supply in the months ahead, as they fight the coronavirus, growing food shortages and what is becoming a global food crisis.
The charity is purchasing and shipping 52 containers of rice, beans and sausages while exploring opportunities to buy additional food from producers in the countries.
Since mid-March, Food For The Poor has shipped 114 tractor-trailer loads of aid, including medical supplies, personal hygiene items and cleaning supplies.
The charity is working with 22 trusted partners in 15 countries in the Caribbean and Latin America to assure the aid gets to those who need it most.
As countries lock down and require social distancing, jobs and incomes have disappeared. Agriculture, travel and any means people have to earn a living have been disrupted. Destitute families worry if they will have enough to eat.
"These countries are vulnerable on a good day," Food For The Poor President/CEO Ed Raine said. "You then put a virus as significant as we now understand the coronavirus to be and you have to worry so much more about what's going to happen, whether it's the fragility of the healthcare services in the countries we serve or just the sheer volume of people who are desperate for food and help."
The head of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) has said in news reports that urgent action is needed to avoid a catastrophe.
Those most at risk are in 10 countries affected by conflict, economic crisis and climate change, including Haiti, according to the WFP.
Bishop Oge Beauvoir, Executive Director of Food For The Poor-Haiti, called coronavirus and the food shortage a deadly combination for Haiti. He thanked the charity's donors and partners for continuing to care for the country.
"You embrace Haiti despite the fact that your people, your country are suffering also from the coronavirus. This is true love," Beauvoir said. "Thank you from the bottom of my heart."
As of Thursday, 5,300 cases of the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, COVID-19, have been reported in the Dominican Republic, followed by 4,356 in Colombia, 519 in Honduras, 342 in Guatemala, 252 in Jamaica, 250 in El Salvador, 115 in Trinidad and Tobago, 76 in Barbados, 70 in the Bahamas, 67 in Guyana, and 62 in Haiti, according to worldometers.info, a website tracking cases.
But the total number reported in some countries may be low due to the lack of testing.
In Jamaica, Food For The Poor has purchased Vienna sausages from GraceKennedy Limited, which ordinarily would be packaging food for hotels and resorts that are now closed because of the coronavirus.
Staff at Food For The Poor-Jamaica last week packed those sausages in more than 800 bags along with rice, beans, cornmeal and MannaPack rice meals.
"At the end of each day, we prayed over the object of the day's labor as a team," said Susan James-Casserly, Food For The Poor's Jamaica Project Manager.
Meanwhile, four big organizations in Jamaica have formed a trust, and Food For The Poor is working with them to provide critical care monitors. In all, 50 monitors will be provided.
In Venezuela, MannaPack meals were distributed to families by Food For The Poor partner Fundacion Lala. It was the first time Food For The Poor has provided aid in the country.
For the past year, the charity has worked with partner Minuto de Dios in Colombia to serve migrants fleeing the collapse of Venezuela's economy for a chance at a better life in the neighboring country.
"There are approximately 13 million people and 1.4 million migrants in Colombia living in the most difficult situation of their lives due to the coronavirus," said Fr. Camilo Bernal, Vice President of Minuto de Dios. "You have been a great light of hope for the poor in Colombia."
In Honduras, Carlos Coello, Projects Director for CEPUDO, the charity's partner, said the majority of residents work in an informal economy, without a steady paycheck. Orders to stay at home have put even more pressure on poor families.
"For every day you don't work, you are not able to buy food," Coello said.
Carolina Johana said families in her community of El Perico, Honduras, are worried about their children because of the coronavirus but grateful for the food and basic day-to-day supplies.
"So many people have lost their lives," she said. "We thank God for everything you are doing."
Food For The Poor's Raine said it's difficult to imagine how dire the situation is in developing countries and how much worse it's going to get.
"We have been blessed by God," Raine said. "This organization has time and time again been able to do its work because of the faithfulness of the donors, the faithfulness of the staff and all of the people who deliver the services in the countries."
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for orphaned and abandoned children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
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