Increasing support to help feed those in need
More food donations and offers of help have poured in to the Eliza DoLittle Society after Bermuda CableVision signed on to assist the volunteer group to provide 2,000 meals a week.
Farmers have signed on by providing vegetables not sold in grocery stores and more companies are raising funds to help through fundraising events.
Eliza DoLittle Society Director Margaret Ward said: “Farmers have started to give us fresh vegetables, which is really good because most people are not buying healthy food, they’re buying general foods to fill up with.
“Our first priority is to get prepared food to at least 14 feeding centres around the Island every weeks. Some of them don’t have a lot of food coming in because they don’t have a lot of support, others have support systems in place.
“We try and get healthy meals to them but we also get non-perishable goods from local distributors which goes into our food bank and to various locations like the emergency housing units at Southside, St David’s.
“If anyone has seen people leaving with piles of food in their vehicles most likely they were picking it up for another food bank,” she said.
“We have a few people who may try to take more than they actually need, we’ve narrowed it down to about four people and in most cases there are mental health issues involved. We ask for identification and make sure they are getting food for themselves or their family members, not other relatives who don’t live with them.
“The majority of our clients tell us whether or not they’re on financial assistance, some say their assistance goes straight to their rent with nothing left to buy food,” she added.
From where she sits there’s no end in sight to the heavy demand for assistance to get food through any number of programmes due to unemployment.
“We’re seeing a lot of young men and women who are unemployed, a lot of seniors, men in particular. We’re trying to get them adopted through our Adopt-a-Senior Programme.
“I would say 90 percent of our clients are unemployed or they have a little bit of work, maybe two or three days a week in hotels or the construction industry.
“Even our drivers are working three hours one week and maybe ten hours the next week on their jobs. That places them in need of assistance as well because of reduced hours like that.
“There’s definitely a lot of people struggling with unemployment, I have a son who’s not working full time right now.
“He worked for two days recently, and half of that money, whatever he earned went to pay back people he borrowed money from; there’s a lot of people in that situation.”
And once again she said their food bank is nearly empty again. “We’ve been very careful to try and stretch it so it reaches as many people as possible and we’re telling people to come every other week instead of weekly whenever possible,” said Ms Ward.
But she was more than pleased that donations are coming in from more sources than before.
“We have a great team of volunteers who assist and we have more companies that cook for us for a day like the staff at Capital G did recently. And there are companies that raise funds to assist through denim days and other events which is great.”
But on the downside the demand for food is so great that there may be a need to have food bins set up year round to collect non-perishable goods not just at Christmas time.
Ms Ward concluded: “It’s coming to that because the demand is there, and it’s very high.”
For more information visit www.elizadolittle.bm or call 232-4483 to “help make hunger history in Bermuda and make a difference in someone’s life”.