The Cayman Reporter: Food bank set to feed Cayman’s most vulnerable

People putting food in a donation box

(Published in The Cayman Reporter, July 10, 2017)

The Good Samaritan Food Bank is hoping to eliminate hunger in Cayman, one hungry mouth at a time.

A centralised food bank is set to open shortly with the aim of helping Cayman’s most vulnerable families who are struggling to make ends meet.

The Food Bank has been founded by Woody Foster and Reginald “Choppy” Delapenha, with the assistance of Charles Boucher, an experienced food bank operator, and Fernando Mendes. The launch was held Saturday, July 8 at the Holiday Inn.

Mr. Foster said that he hopes to have the food bank up and running by the start of the school year to help assist the many children in Cayman who often go to school hungry.

“We have big plans,” Mr. Foster said. “The need in Cayman is big, but the hearts in Cayman are even bigger.

“It will take equipment, electricity and labour,” he added, as he outlined the ambitious plans for the food bank.

Mr. Foster explained that the food bank will work with restaurants, supermarkets, hotels and food distributors to ensure that no food is wasted.

“Around the world it is now illegal for supermarkets to throw out food,” Mr. Foster explained. “We don’t want to have to wait to be told by government not to do it. We should do it on our own.”

Food processing hub

The food bank will offer both perishable and non-perishable foods and will serve as a central processing hub to ensure that food is distributed to those in need.

The aim is to mitigate island-wide hunger, malnutrition and poverty by providing access to good healthy food by gathering and distributing food donations to existing non-profit social service organisations – known as pantries.

A number of businesses have already signed up including Foster’s Food Fair IGA, the Holiday Inn, Progressives and Hurleys. Subway have already made a donation of food storage equipment.

“Far too often we only see what our usual routine shows us, but there is a growing need in Cayman,” Mr. Delapenha said. “People are sometimes shy; it takes a lot of pride to admit that you need help.”

Mr. Boucher explained that the food bank is not a church organisation and will be there to help anyone in need.

“Whatever religion or race, we are here to make sure that people’s bellies are full.”

Central database

Mr. Boucher has extensive experience in establishing food banks. He was involved in starting up and running three food banks in his native Canada, one of which his wife, Manon Papillion, who is also involved in the Good Samaritan Food Bank, served as a founding member.

He said that in addition to establishing the food bank they are also working to build a central database that will help Cayman gain a better understanding as to how many people need assistance, and ensure that people don’t “double dip” and take advantage of the system.

“The central database will help coordinate food efforts and ensure everyone who needs help in Cayman knows where to go,” Mr. Boucher said.

According to figures from the Need Assessment Unit, there are currently some 2,500 families across Cayman that need help.

The food bank will be located in Industrial Park, and it was revealed that the building has been secured rent-free for a period of one year.

Community help

The food bank is now actively reaching out to all those in the food industry, as well as existing organisations working with low income families, to help coordinate efforts and get the project up and running.

They are also seeking donations of food processing equipment as well as volunteers who are willing to roll up their sleeves and help.

Mr Foster added: “We feel we have the depth of knowledge, and more importantly, the passion. The need in Cayman is great.

“We are going to make great things happen.”

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