More than $13 million has been spent on the National Food Distribution Program, Minister of Social Services Frankie Campbell said yesterday as he noted the government plans to extend the program through the end of October.
“The National Food Distribution Task Force’s time frame was to operate from the last week in May to the end of August,” he said during a press conference.
“To date, the government has provided funds in the amount of $13,225,341. The National Food Distribution Task Force has distributed food parcels and vouchers to approximately 55,078 households throughout The Bahamas up to September 12. The need for continued food assistance through the task force is still of paramount importance and as such, the government of The Bahamas has committed to the continued partnership to the end of October 2020.
“The process of feeding our brothers and sisters remains a major priority for the government of The Bahamas.”
Campbell said those in need of food can apply to NGOs or to the Department of Social Services.
Last week, Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said roughly $11.9 million was disbursed, as he noted that the government was increasing its weekly allocation to the task force from $1 million to $1.3 million.
Asked what will happen after October, Campbell said he hopes the need will lessen by then as the economy continues to reopen.
“My hope is that the appeals that are being sent from various ministers, the prime minister in particular, asking for persons to adhere to protocols, for persons to take the kind of personal responsibility to help us reduce the transmission and enable us to safely reopen the economy…that will reduce the need for persons to be seeking the food assistance,” he said.
“That said, food, shelter and clothing – I believe in that same order – are man’s basic necessities. As a government, we are obliged to do all we can to provide that for as many as we can for as long as we can.”
When Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis reported on the task force’s contributions back on August 9, he said more than 110,000 people, up to July 27, were receiving help. The task force was feeding 23,500 households then.
At last report, unemployment was estimated to be over 40 percent amid the COVID-19 pandemic.