GB food assistance budget not exhausted but demand high

By DENISE MAYCOCK

Tribune Freeport Reporter

dmaycock@tribunemedia.net

MINISTER of Social Services Myles Laroda said additional resources have been put in place to meet the growing food assistance demand in Grand Bahama.

In March, Mr Laroda told the House of Assembly that the island’s food assistance budget for this fiscal year is nearly exhausted. He underscored the government’s belief that no one should go without food in his contribution to the mid-year budget. However, the social services minister did not explain how the government would address the problem.

On Friday, The Tribune asked Minister Laroda for an update concerning the budget for food assistance in Grand Bahama.

He said: ”I would not say it is exhausted. I said that it is still in great demand. With regards to food assistance in Grand Bahama, we continue to provide it. I said there was a great demand, but funds were budgeted, and those funds were close to depletion.

“But once the demand for more food assistance came in, the government moved resources into place, Mr Laroda said.

There is believed to be a significant demand for food assistance in West Grand Bahama, particularly Eight Mile Rock, which is the largest settlement in the Bahamas.

During a walkabout in the Seagrape, Eight Mile Rock area, on Thursday, Godfrey Theoc of social services noted that poverty is a major issue in the EMR community. When asked the number of people on food assistance, he estimated that there could be about 1,000.

The initial demand for food assistance in Grand Bahama began in 2019 following Hurricane Dorian. Later, in 2020, it was due to the COVID-19 epidemic, which significantly affected the island’s economy and caused increased unemployment.

The initial demand for food assistance in Grand Bahama began in 2019 following Hurricane Dorian. Later, in 2020, it was due to the COVID pandemic, which significantly impacted the island’s economy and caused increased unemployment.

In October 2021, the Department of Social Services reported that 3,772 Grand Bahama residents were registered with the national feeding programme carried out under Social Services.

The exact number of people currently on food assistance has not been provided.