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, 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, 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.