As a number of countries reel from the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, many people around the globe are experiencing varying levels of food insecurity.
In Haiti, the Food For The Poor is taking a two-pronged approach to make sure Haiti has a reliable food supply in the months ahead, as the country fights both the deadly COVID-19 and its growing food shortage.
As the first of nine shipments of rice to Haiti from the Republic of China (Taiwan) is scheduled to sail next week, Food For The Poor is sending an additional 40 containers of rice to fill the gap until the rice from Taiwan arrives in early June.
The charity also is sending 11 containers of beans in May and 10 more in June to bolster its food relief. It is also exploring ways to buy additional food from producers in Haiti.
The spread of coronavirus has made life even more challenging in Haiti, which experienced months of unrest in 2019 over rising prices and shortages of food and fuel.
“Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, 4.6 million Haitians suffered from food insecurity. With the active spread of the virus, a new crisis has emerged,” said Bishop Oge Beauvoir, Executive Director of Food For The Poor Haiti.
“Families are confined at home. Schools are closed. Factories are closed. People cannot go to work. The farmers cannot go to work their land. If we don’t act now, things will get worse,” said Beauvoir, standing in a warehouse almost empty of rice.
In Haiti, Genese Casseus is thankful for the food provided by Food For The Poor’s generous donors.
“This food will do a lot for me,” she said. “I joined the program at Food For The Poor and they’ve done so much for me. If you see my twins now, you won’t recognize them. If it weren’t for the program, they wouldn’t be alive. Food For The Poor has done so much for me. Thanks to them, I still have my twins.”
Beauvoir thanked the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the charity’s donors for continuing to care for Haiti.
“You keep praying for Haiti and you keep working and helping us,” Beauvoir said. “Haiti has no means to cope with COVID-19. In very challenging moment[s] we have to continue to provide to those in need.”
Up to Friday, Haiti had 72 cases of COVID-19 and two resulting deaths, according to worldometers.info, a website that tracks coronavirus cases worldwide. But the total number may be suppressed due to the lack of COVID-19 testing in the country.
The Taiwanese rice is a gift from the Republic of China’s (Taiwan) Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Each shipment will provide approximately 7 million meals a month.
For 13 years, the partnership with the Taiwanese government has provided Food For The Poor the opportunity to feed thousands of families and meet its mission to help the poorest of the poor.
The Republic of China (Taiwan) is also helping Florida fight the spread of COVID-19.
On Friday, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Miami sent 100,000 medical masks in Taiwan’s name to the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s response center in Orlando.
Food For The Poor will distribute the rice from Taiwan to sponsored programs, one of which is the charity’s feeding center in Port-au-Prince. Approximately 15,000 hot meals are cooked and distributed from this location six days a week.
“Haiti is so vulnerable. As bad as coronavirus is in the United States, we cannot even imagine how devastating it is for the poor in Haiti and the other the countries where we serve,” Food For The Poor President/CEO Ed Raine said.
“Growing food shortages are a problem,” Raine added. “We’re so grateful to the government of Taiwan, who has been a steadfast partner over the years, for this gift of rice. In addition to this, we are looking at solutions outside the bounds of our usual suppliers or shipping methods. Our approach is a deliberate strategy to try to get ahead of the problem.”