In this unprecedented time, various organizations have stepped up to address the enormous needs of Bahamians in the midst of an economic crisis brought on by COVID-19 —including the philanthropic organization Lyford Cay Foundations, which recently announced a $1.5 million commitment in grant funding to support The Bahamian community with food assistance.
Lyford Cay Foundations, though remaining committed to its core mission of providing education opportunities to help all Bahamians reach their full potential, identified in the early stages of this pandemic that Bahamian families — still reeling from last year’s catastrophic hurricane and largely employed in a tourism-dependent economy — would require help for the most basic of needs: food.
In May, its concerned board and generous donors granted $275,000 to various local feeding organizations to support them during a remarkable spike in demand for food assistance.
Six months into the pandemic, with record levels of unemployment and thousands of households needing support with food aid, their additional commitment of $1,500,000 — to be disbursed as monthly grants — will continue to supplement emergency food relief operations of Bahamian NGOs, as they address the immense need of Bahamians across the archipelago.
“The fight against hunger is a collaborative effort, and we are grateful to have a thoughtful and compassionate partner in Lyford Cay Foundations to allow us to further continue our mission of feeding the most vulnerable in our communities particularly those impacted by COVID-19,” said Sean Brennen, director general of The Bahamas Red Cross, which has been the beneficiary of $105,000 in grants so far from Lyford Cay Foundations, toward their food aid efforts in southeastern New Providence as well as the northern Family Islands and Grand Bahama.
Also receiving a total of $105,000 in grants from Lyford Cay Foundations to date, The Bahamas Feeding Network has, since June, distributed 40,000 food parcels with items totaling more than $1 million in value to families in northeastern New Providence, as well as in eight southern Family Islands.
“Since [June], we’ve basically tripled our efforts, and our numbers are still rising,” said Philip Smith of The Bahamas Feeding Network. “I praise Lyford Cay Foundations for their support during this time.”
Chairman of the board of the community organization Lend a Hand Bahamas, which has adapted its programming to become the Zone Leader for Nassau City, echoed these sentiments, benefiting from Lyford Cay Foundations grants totaling $135,000 so far to supply food parcels to 13,500 households per week in the most densely populated area of the country.
“It’s great to have this opportunity through the Bahamian government to feed people, but the reality is that the needs are so much greater than what we could ever ask for and requires private support,” Lucas Metropulos said.
“It’s organizations like Lyford Cay Foundations that come in during a critical time to help us address these needs, especially when we have a spike like we’ve seen recently. It’s a tremendous help.”
Hands for Hunger has reduced its internal programming and adapted to serve Bahamians in need through innovative changes to its operations over the past six months.
To observe health safety protocols to reduce the spread of COVID-19, Hands for Hunger is currently partnering with Showman E-Bistro to deliver food parcels to 6,500 families a week, and grant funding of $75,000 from Lyford Cay Foundations has greatly assisted.
“Because this pandemic has presented us with new challenges, we always appreciate when our donors step up in a major way for us,” said Hands for Hunger Multimedia Manager Aarone Sargent. “Donations like those from Lyford Cay Foundations go a long way in helping us to assist so many more people in a sustained state of food insecurity.”
A further $125,000 has already been granted to the Salvation Army for its food voucher program, and grants from August through December will continue to feed 500 families a week.
Understanding that Bahamians across the archipelago are feeling the effects of the pandemic, Lyford Cay Foundations has also provided grants to organizations on Eleuthera and the Abacos to support their communities — many of whom are still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Dorian.
IDEA Relief, an NGO that formed in response to the devastation from Hurricane Dorian, signed on to provide food parcels to families still trying to rebuild their lives.
Utilizing $65,000 in grants from Lyford Cay Foundations so far, the organization assists 13,000 Bahamians a week via 24-hour distribution centers across the mainland and cays.
“We’re trying to make sure people here are not going hungry and are also able to rebuild and recover,” said Will Tomlinson, president and co-founder of IDEA Relief.
“Providing them with food assistance really helps them to put their money where their greatest needs are, like repairing their house. I’m so grateful that our goals are aligned with Lyford Cay Foundations to help out in disaster scenarios in this country.”
Nearby, Lyford Cay Foundations grants totaling $39,000 so far are supporting the Eleuthera Feeding Initiative by the One Eleuthera Foundation, which largely provides food vouchers to 7,000 Bahamians.
The food vouchers can be used at 22 vendors scattered across settlements on the island to keep the economy afloat, explains Chief Operations Officer Jim Richard.
“The economy, especially in south Eleuthera, is very much based on tourism, which has halted,” Richard said.
“So, what we’ve chosen to do from the very beginning is to work with the little mom and pop shops across the island, which support local and give Bahamians some freedom in food choices. We’re very appreciative for the grants from Lyford Cay Foundations because it’s allowed us to meet more needs in our community in the way we feel is most effective.”
Despite some lockdown restrictions being lifted across the country, Bahamians will continue to feel the effects of this pandemic for some time.
With each passing week, the numbers of those in need of food assistance increase, but every month for the rest of the year, Lyford Cay Foundations will disburse grants from its $1.5 million commitment to support these feeding agencies as it sustains Bahamians during these perilous and uncertain times.