With Rabbi Sholom Bluming calling the tales of empty cupboards and hungry children “heartbreaking beyond words,” he presented a major donation on behalf of the Nassau Jewish Community to the Bahamas Feeding Network, helping to feed hundreds through grocery parcels delivered at social distancing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. “These are unprecedented times and people all over the world, hard-working people, are suffering through no fault of their own,” said the rabbi who has led the Jewish population in The Bahamas since 2010. “When we hear stories of children going to bed hungry, it breaks your heart. The community was very generous despite many facing uncertainties themselves so we thank everyone who donated to this important cause.”
The rabbi said the Nassau Jewish Community selected the Bahamas Feeding Network because of what he called the “impressive and substantial work” the volunteer based organization is doing to distribute food parcels, food coupons and gift cards.
“The Bahamas Feeding Network is an amazing organization and we were very impressed by the means with which they spread the distribution through dozens of churches and feeding centres that would ordinarily collect hot meals from the Feeding Network centre in Fox Hill’s. When the volunteers could no longer come together because of social distancing, the Network revised its operation almost immediately, converting to food parcels and coupons in New Providence and to gift cards in Grand Bahama and the Family Islands,” the rabbi explained. “We are honoured to be part of that mission.”
Since its founding in December 2013, the Bahamas Feeding Network has provided more than 800,000 hot meals, operating with a team of volunteers led by Executive Dir. Philip Smith. Many of those volunteers work in “the headquarters,” a modest cottage kitchen, or haul trays each packed with 18 food containers as if it were a nearly full-time job without pay. Each week on Thursdays and Sundays, individuals from the Fox Hill community as well as members from the public crowd the small property collecting their dinners and socializing. Representatives from churches, feeding centres and other partner NGOs arrive in vehicles to collect the designated amount of trays to assist their respective communities. Royal Caribbean, which donated all the food for 2019 and into 2020, has been BFN’s single largest contributor. An anonymous donor has borne all administrative costs, including transportation, making it possible for every penny donated to go directly to feeding. “We could not do any of this without the tireless work of the Executive Director Philip Smith and the incredible team of volunteers who can’t wait to get back to their routine,” said Network founder H.E. Frank Crothers.
“With so many thousands of people out of work during the COVID-19 crisis, the problem of hunger in the country has exploded,” said Smith. “Government statistics tell us that one in every six to seven people in The Bahamas faces hunger and that was before the widespread lay-offs and unemployment. We don’t have the numbers but I would not be surprised if the total surpasses 60,000. Think about the pain that causes. We have to do all we can to ease that pain There is nothing sadder than a child crying because he has not eaten all day or the day before and he just hurts.”
BFN has distributed more than $173,000 worth of food parcels and coupons since the lockdown. Bahamas Feeding Network founder is credited with being the creator of the concept. Mrs. Patricia Minnis is BFN patron and Felix Stubbs is chairman. Executive Director Philip Smith manages day-to-day operations, coordination, inspiration and fund-raising.