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Over $31 Million in 2 Years Allocated to Feeding the Hungry in The Bahamas
By Bahamas Information Services
Oct 16, 2015 - 7:51:20 PM

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(BIS Photo/Kemuel Stubbs)

NASSAU, The Bahamas – The Government of The Bahamas has allocated more than $31 million to the Department of Social Services’ Food Assistance Programme over the past two fiscal periods as part of its efforts to feed persons in need, Minister of Social Services and Community Development, the Hon. Melanie Sharon Griffin said.

Almost $13 million ($12.8) was allocated for the 2014/2015 Fiscal Period while another $5.9 million was received in contingency funding for a total of $18.7 million in 2014/2015. The 2015/2016 allocation remains at $12.8 million “as we anticipate savings from the impact of the implementation of the reloadable Visa Pre-Paid Card and inherent reassessments,” Mrs. Griffin added.

Minister Griffin said the implementation of the Government of The Bahamas’ Social Safety Net Programme will not only help to address issues such as hunger, but will also help to end generational poverty in the country by creating greater opportunities for persons currently in need of social assistance to attain greater independence and self-sufficiency.

Addressing persons attending activities surrounding the 35th Observance of World Food Day held Friday, October 16, at Arawak Cay, Mrs. Griffin said additional funding has also been provided for the new national breakfast programme in conjunction with the existing national lunch programme – both of which are managed by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology in conjunction with the Department of Social Services.

Minister Griffin said the Government, through the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development, has also partnered and/or provided subsidies to “several partner agencies” as a part of those efforts to provide social protection for persons in need. 

The Bahamas National Food Network recently held a best practices seminar that brought together government and non-governmental agencies that manage feeding programmes in seeking to provide more structure and better coordination to the various feeding networks – a move Mrs. Griffin called “necessary.”

“Realizing that while feeding the hungry is a noble goal, the process can be made better if efforts are coordinated,” Mrs. Griffin said. “This coordination, we believe, will help to reduce duplication of efforts as well as the wastage of time and money.”

Minister Griffin said in addition to collaborating with its social partners, the Government has also sought to bring greater efficiency to its own operations to ensure greater social protection by reforming the Social Safety Net Programme.

“Having signed a $7.5 million loan with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in 2012, we are now fully in the midst of joining many countries around the world in the use of electronic technology in the provision of social protection to reduce poverty and hunger through the introduction of a Conditional Cash Transfer Programme known as R.I.S.E.”

An acronym for Renewing, Inspiring, Sustaining and Empowering, R.I.S.E. was launched at the Department of Social Services’ Wulff Road Centre, June 8, 2015. The R.I.S.E. Programme is expected to become the Ministry’s signature programme and will amalgamate assistance programmes like food, providing a cash grant to qualifying families based on compliance with specific health and education conditions.

“The goal of this programme is to promote human capital development, modify behaviour and eliminate generational poverty by improving educational achievement and providing a healthier lifestyle amongst children from disadvantaged homes,” Mrs. Griffin said.

“We, of course, are excited about these innovations to our social protection efforts. The use of the pre-paid debit card has already reaped a lot of benefits for our clients, merchants and staff,” Mrs. Griffin added.

Mrs. Griffin applauded the organizers of World Food Day in The Bahamas for their efforts in raising awareness to the challenges hunger presents globally, and to highlight the being taken to fight hunger – especially locally.

“As the country’s lead agency in the fight against poverty and hunger, the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development is keenly aware of the significance and intent of this year’s theme: ‘Social Protection and Agriculture’ in placing emphasis on the role played by social protection in reducing these companion plagues by providing access to food.

“In 2009, it was estimated that there were 1 billion hungry people in the world who did not have enough to eat due to the world financial crisis which also led to an extreme rise in food prices. As the global economy continues to rebound, that number continues to reduce; however, in my estimation, one hungry person on this planet is one too many. We must therefore continue our efforts and partnerships in fighting world hunger,” Mrs. Griffin said. 

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