What started out as an initiative for Graycliff Group of Companies’ staff has mushroomed into a goal to feed as many people as they can on Friday, May 8 and every Friday for the rest of the month.
Graycliff has been joined by the One Eleuthera Foundation and Better Homes & Gardens MCR Group for the food assistance feeding give back initiative.
The program is a response to the difficult social and economic climate in the country due to COVID-19, with thousands of people “temporarily laid off” and out of work as non-essential businesses were shuttered due to government-mandated closures after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in The Bahamas on March 15.
In recent weeks, thousands of people across The Bahamas have been laid off as the economy came to a halt amid the new coronavirus health crisis.
As a result, Graycliff executive Paolo Garzaroli said, a high percentage of Bahamian families are struggling to have a proper meal.
“We are going to feed at least between 1,000 and 1,200 people on Friday,” said Garzaroli of the drive-by pickup food chain that will take place between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the Humidor at Graycliff on West Hill Street.
To launch the feeding endeavor, Garzaroli, Mario Carey of Better Homes & Gardens MCR Group and Shaun Ingraham of the One Eleuthera Foundation, also sought donations and assistance from other stakeholders to come together to create the food assistance feeding program.
“We’ve gotten some donations from people that want to help, but right now, a lot of the money is coming from us and we’ve gone from there,” said Garzaroli.
Before they’ve even launched the first feeding initiative, the program is continually evolving from its original intent of being a drive-by pickup food chain.
“Someone just gave me 20 cases of milk, so it’s going to be a bit of a mixture of stuff. We also got water, so you will be able to get a bottle of water when you come. It’s going to evolve as things happen, but the plan is to do one hot meal and then see where that goes – it just depends on how generous people are and how much we can produce out of the kitchen at one time.”
Garzaroli and Carey, along with Graycliff chefs and approximately 50 volunteers, will take to the kitchen to prepare the fish fingers, pasta and chicken meals that are on the planned menu for the day.
“We will see what other people are going to donate,” said Garzaroli. “This could easily mushroom into a much bigger thing than we originally thought. It can get to several thousand people that we will be feeding, which would be great because the need is great out there.”
Garzaroli said they will also do meal distribution through St. Francis Xavier Cathedral as well as the New Providence Community Center (NPCC), and they are also working with Rotary and the Bahamas Feeding Network.
The assistance feeding program is expected to expand to other areas of the country.
“The goal isn’t just to feed 1,000 people. The goal is to feed as many people as we can. The plan is to do this until everything starts to get back going, and once that happens, whatever funds we have leftover will go to the charitable organizations to help them with their feeding programs. The goal at the end is to transition into helping them.”
The Bahamas had 92 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 11 deaths, 26 recovered cases, eight hospitalized cases, 55 active cases and completed 1,500 tests as of yesterday. There were 3,732,046 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 261,517 deaths worldwide.