The HIV Food Bank is receiving more referrals from persons needing assistance since the COVID-19 pandemic has reached Barbados’ shores, and is therefore appealing for the public’s help.
Community Nutrition Officer with the Food Bank, Stacia Whittaker, made the appeal as she accepted a donation of cash, foodstuff and toiletries from the Barbados Government Information Service, recently.
Noting that the HIV Food Bank was already dealing with a vulnerable group of individuals before COVID-19, Ms. Whittaker said that the pandemic has created additional challenges.
“We have seen an increase in the demand for food assistance at our Food Bank, and that in itself has put an enormous strain on our ability to meet the needs of our clients. We’re seeing more referrals for persons seeking help. We’re even seeing those who are already on the programme asking for additional help, and our donations are obviously not able to meet that high level of demand,” she stated.
Explaining that the Food Bank currently assists over 300 families each month, Ms. Whittaker pointed out that the hampers distributed were not just for HIV individuals, but for their households, which often comprised children, the elderly, and, in some cases, the disabled.
The Food Bank manager appealed to the public to donate non-perishable items, such as rice, peas and canned fish; breakfast items, such as cereals and tea; as well as fresh produce, such as ground provisions, fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh eggs and frozen meats.
“We want our clients to eat more healthily, and this was even before COVID-19 because we saw the importance of having a variety of items in their hampers to help address their nutrition support.
“We still have our Adopt-a-Shelf programme, where persons can choose one of our shelves and commit to buying items in bulk on a monthly, quarterly or twice a year basis. We also accept toiletries, and even now more than ever, things to sanitize, such as bleach and hand sanitizer; these will make a difference. We are always very appreciative of the contributions we receive; no donation is too small and we make sure it goes a long way,” she emphasized.
Persons interested in donating to the HIV Food Bank may take items to its office at Ladymeade Gardens, Jemmotts Lane, St. Michael, Monday to Friday. They may also call the Food Bank at 536-3314, so the agency can collect donations curb side.
In addition, monetary donations may be deposited on the HIV Food Bank’s account at the Sheraton Centre branch of CIBC First Caribbean Bank, account number 1523055.