September 12, 2020
The Urban Renewal Commission’s month-long Urban Feeding (Lunch) Programme for children got underway Monday (September 27, 2020) in the ten major urban communities in New Providence within which Urban Renewal Centres are located.
Similar programmes will take place in Grand Bahama, Abaco and the Family Islands on which Urban Renewal Centres are located utilizing take-out services. In all, there are 23 Urban Renewal Centres throughout The Bahamas.
The ten Centres in New Providence (Bain and Grant’s Town, Centreville, Englerston, Fort Charlotte, Fox Hill, Free Town (Kemp Road), Flamingo Gardens, Nassau Village, Pinewood Gardens and St. Barnabas) have been averaging feeding 100 persons per day over the first two days since the launch. That’s a total average of 1,000 persons a day, or 2,000 persons over the first two days. Held daily at 12 noon, the Feeding (Lunch) Programme, is expected to conclude September 30.
Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell, said the programme serves as another platform in the Government of The Bahamas’ continued efforts to provide the three basic necessities of life – food, clothing and shelter – to its citizens who find themselves in need as a result of the economic fall-out from the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Minister Campbell said in addition to an already increased budget for social assistance, the Government has also allocated $16 million to fund the National Food Distribution Task Force, which has assisted more than 27,000 Bahamian households with meals.
The month-long Lunch Programme is one of a number of feeding initiatives the Urban Renewal Commission has undertaken since the arrival of the COVID-19 Pandemic in The Bahamas. Among the other initiatives have been the implementation of curbside delivery of food parcels to senior citizens, persons with disabilities and single parents in New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco and the Family Islands during the Lockdown periods and a more recent Breakfast Programme for more than 2,000 persons in New Providence.
Minister Campbell expressed his gratitude to the volunteers who have been assisting at the Centres in areas ranging from food preparation, cooking, handling and distribution, to ensuring safety protocols are maintained, and to corporate Bahamas: “who have made this venture more feasible by assisting with discounts and/or donations.” He also commended Team Members at Urban Renewal who have been at the forefront of ensuring a smooth process over the first two days.
“In and out of a pandemic, disastrous event and/or crisis, we know that man’s basic necessities are food, shelter and clothing and so our focus, as a Government, was, has and continues to be, to ensure that those basic needs are being met,” Minister Campbell said.
“As usual, none of our programmes are New Providence-centric and so what is going on here in New Providence, will take place in Grand Bahama, Abaco and at the other Centres across the Family Islands in order to get the most effect, based on the needs,” Minister Campbell added.
The Social Services Minister said that focus becomes multiplied when it involves groupings that are considered a country’s most vulnerable groups of which children, older persons and persons with disabilities are at the top of the list.
“Annually the Urban Renewal Commission offers a Summer Programme for our children to keep them positively engaged,” Minister Campbell said.
“Part of this programme was also ensuring that they got something to eat. As a result of COVID-19, the lockdowns and the need to physical distance in an attempt to prevent and/or reduce the community spread of the virus, we could not host the programme this year, but we realized that the effects of COVID-19 have resulted in a greater need for food and food assistance and so Urban Renewal got creative and made the decision to utilize those funds that would have been available for the Summer Programme to offer the food/lunch via take-out services which has created yet another vehicle with which the Government is ensuring that the three basic needs are met during this pandemic.”
Minister Campbell said Team Members at the various Urban Renewal Centres are ensuring that all of the Ministry of Health’s protocols to prevent/reduce the community spread of the COVID-19 virus have been put in place and practiced. They are on hand to receive the children, ensure that they are wearing masks and that they adhere to the 3-6ft protocol. Centre personnel are also sanitizing hands ahead of filling the take-out orders.
Ms. Loretta Mackey, Centre Manager of the Free Town Urban Renewal Centre, Tuesday applauded the decision to implement the month-long lunch programme. Ms. Mackey said children from throughout the community have benefitted from the programme over the course of the first two days.
“Every day we will have a different menu that consists of delicious, nutritious, hot, cooked food. Today we have curry and rice with potatoes, carrots and corn. Children from throughout the Free Town Community have presented for assistance. The kids really, really appreciate what we are doing and have expressed that to us.” Ms. Mackey applauded the collaboration between personnel from the Centre and volunteers from the community thus far.
“We have had volunteers from within the community who have come in to assist us with ensuring that all of the health and safety protocols are followed insofar as helping with the sanitizing of hands and physical distancing," Ms. Mackey said. “We are extremely thankful for the opportunity to be able to offer this kind of assistance to our children during their time of need.”
Ms. Sonia Kemp, Centre Manager at the Fox Hill Urban Renewal Centre, expressed similar sentiments. Ms. Kemp also joined Ms. Mackey in applauding the efforts of Centre personnel and community volunteers in ensuring speed and efficiency of service over the first two days.
“It’s going great,” Ms. Kemp said. “As a result of the strategies we have put in place, and the collaboration between Centre Staff and our volunteers, we have been able to distribute our lunch packages in under an hour. We have a great time serving the people of Fox Hill and so we view this as just another opportunity to do what we love doing.”
Ms. Sonia Kemp, Centre Manager at the Fox Hill Urban Renewal Centre (foreground), photographed preparing lunch plates for children of the Fox Hill Community Tuesday (September 8). Also pictured (from left) are: Ms. Lillian Flowers (volunteer) and Ms. Krystal Knowles, Fox HIll Urban Renewal Centre. (BIS photo/Matt Maura)
Team Members at the Urban Renewal Centres have been closely following the health and safety protocols established by the Ministry of Health as a means of preventing/reducing the community spread of COVID-19 locally. In addition to the wearing of masks and physical distancing, the children's hands are sanitized prior to receiving their take-out orders. (BIS Photo/Matt Maura)
Team Members from the Free Town (Kemp Road) Urban Renewal Centre are all set to serve the children their lunches Tuesday. Pictured (from left) are: Ms. Sherry Knowles, Special Projects and Programmes Coordinator, Urban Renewal Commission; Ms. Daphne Bannister, Team Member; Ms. LaTonya Gibson, Team Member, and Ms. Loretta Mackey, Centre Manager. (BIS Photo/Matt Maura)
By Matt Maura