(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
“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
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 –
“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.