Covid-19 Emergency Food Box Program in St Lucia

by Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia Inc
Covid-19 Emergency Food Box Program in St Lucia
Covid-19 Emergency Food Box Program in St Lucia
Covid-19 Emergency Food Box Program in St Lucia
Covid-19 Emergency Food Box Program in St Lucia
Covid-19 Emergency Food Box Program in St Lucia
Covid-19 Emergency Food Box Program in St Lucia
Covid-19 Emergency Food Box Program in St Lucia
Covid-19 Emergency Food Box Program in St Lucia
Volunteer Tracy packaging food to distribute
Volunteer Tracy packaging food to distribute

Every day, poor families and individuals are forced to make dangerous trade-offs between food, health care, education, housing and other essentials.

Food insecurity is often a proxy for economic insecurity and inequality. Rates of food insecurity are higher for households with incomes near or below the national poverty line, with women and men living alone, and with children, especially households headed by a single parent. Rates are also higher in already marginalized and vulnerable homes and community. These groups can be especially vulnerable to poor nutrition and diet-related diseases due to intersecting risk factors associated with inadequate financial resources for individuals and their families.

In addition to income, the food environment plays an important role in people’s access to food. And hunger is not just about getting enough calories to relieve an empty stomach; the nutritional quality of the food matters too. Many communities—especially those with high populations of low-income people, face substantial challenges in accessing healthy and nutritious foods, including poverty, lack of access to transportation, lack of healthy food retail, and greater access to unhealthy food sources like foods high in starch and carbohydrates and easy access to alcohol outlets.

These circumstances are largely due to chronic underinvestment in many rural communities over the past 50 years which have contributed to disproportionate rates of diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension—comorbidities that make people more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Although data on testing, hospitalizations, and deaths due to COVID-19 are still incomplete, early warnings and reports have shown that low-income, communities have been hit the hardest. Many in these groups are frontline and essential workers who are put at risk when they use public transportation or go to work. Many also live-in homes with many people, where a working-age adult exposed to the virus could pass it on to seniors and others in their household. Furthermore, these households are not only more likely to be exposed to the disease, but are more vulnerable to it due to longstanding environmental inequities, where exposure to toxic and obesity-promoting elements in their daily environments cause higher rates of asthma and diet-related chronic diseases. They have less access to adequate health care and testing, limited safety net protections, and many of them are among the hundreds of service workers who have already lost incomes and jobs due to COVID-19.

Prevalence of food insecurity is especially high in communities such as Anse La Raye, Canaries, Soufriere, Dennery, Micoud, Vieux Fort where there are large populations of unemployed and low-income residents.

For the Month of September, we packaged and distributed over 300 parcels of food, each food parcel is valued at US$110, on average we spend a total of US$1500 per month to assist those who are food insecure across the island, including our gender-based violence clients.

It is imperative that we continue to support those who are in need of food but so too must central government.

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Packaging Flour to include in food bags
Packaging Flour to include in food bags

Number of families struggling to afford food rose steeply in pandemic and remains high, especially among vulnerable and marginalized homes and communities including elderly, special needs and unemployed. The number of households having difficulty putting food on the table grew sharply over the past year due to COVID-19’s far-reaching health and economic impacts and remains high relative to pre-pandemic levels as many companies downsized or closed down completely leaving many women with children unable to feed their families or afford basics such as utilities, rent, digital devices, medical and education support.

Over the last months with funds raised, in kind and cash donations, we have distributed about 400 food parcels to families who are food insecure.

Daily we get about 7-8 calls for food support by a wide cross section of our society, while we attempt to help as much as we can; our efforts are not enough to support everyone.

To support the current we would need to distribute at least 50 food parcels a week at a cost of USD1000, continue to contribute and share our appeal with friends and families to assist those who need help.

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COVID-19 arrived at a time of unprecedented need, with a record number of people already requiring humanitarian assistance at the beginning of 2020 as poverty levels have been rising steadily prior to covid-19, with a number of women headed households losing their jobs, people are going hungry on a daily basis and many more are experiencing acute food insecurity since May 2020.

CONSTRAINED ability of women to feed themselves and their families before and during this covid-19 pandemic is already affecting large sections of our population; price increases further inhibit equitable access to quality nutritious food. Increasing rates of infection and widespread fear of infection, coupled with restrictive social distancing measures, are affecting marginalized and vulnerable populations the most. These issues will lead to more severe food insecurity and higher rates of malnutrition in the long term for poor families. This will place more stress on poor families to make ends meet when they are hit by higher food costs and a drop in informal job opportunities. Moreover, spiking food prices could potentially lead to social unrest and instability.

Severe lockdown approaches over the last few months/weeks are not supported by broad and inclusive social protection systems to protect and provide basic needs for families and individuals whose livelihoods have been disrupted. The Government of Saint Lucia has not initiated mitigating strategy and these sudden and possibly extended measures have the potential to be catastrophic to poor families. As COVID-19 evolves, so too must responses, moving from blanket approaches to more flexible, contextually feasible strategies such as flexible lockdowns may be a more effective approach, a pro-poor model of social distancing, especially for highly vulnerable groups with limited resources and resilience should prove beneficial to families and the Government.

We have moved to a more targeted approach to food distribution i.e. we review every request and make a decision to assist with food parcels as we do not have the capacity to do large scale food distribution because of lack of funding and donations.

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Packaging Food Parcels for People of Choiseul
Packaging Food Parcels for People of Choiseul

Since Covid-19 in early 2020 we have not had an opportunity to organize any fundraising but the demand for support services and material help such as food, disposible diapers, milk, formula, clothes, etc and educational support for back to school from women and children has increased exponentially.

We cannot assist if we do not get assistance from donors like you, your friends and your family. The COVID-19 health crisis has caused a tremendous spike in incidents of abuse as women are afraid to report due to the many restrictions instituted and the threats from pepretrators . Even as lockdown restrictions are lifted, we know that the abuse will not merely end, that this remains a critical time for survivors and that education, awareness, and bystander intervention are desperately needed including food and basic items for survival.

Women & Girls who are always tasked of maintaining the household i.e. provide food, clean, wash, send children to school and take care of the medical needs of elders, siblings and children deserve access to services and support inclusvie of food, utilities, rent, medical, educational, etc.

Also providing systems to avoid and minimize potential physical and sexual violence is very important. However, COVID-19 has caused a rise in cases of sexual and domestic violence as socioeconomic disparities are widening, schools are still closed, curfews and travel restrictions are policed, women and girls are forced to work and shelter in unsafe places—some are sheltering in place with their perpetrators.

Our women, girls and their families have been disproportionately affected by this global pandemic which is requiring us to do more to assist and prevent violence against women and girls but also ensure they can survive by providing food, shelter, utilities, medical and educational help.

Help us help them by donating! 

To date we have assisted over 1500 households with food and support services for victims of gender based violence. 

Volunteers distributed food supplies in Choiseul
Volunteers distributed food supplies in Choiseul
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Organization Information

Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia Inc

Location: GROS ISLET - Saint Lucia
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @ourvoiceslu
Project Leader:
Catherine Sealys
President
Castries, --None-- Saint Lucia
$5,363 raised of $10,000 goal
 
77 donations
$4,637 to go
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