The HIV Food Bank is reporting an increase in the number of people who went to that organization for assistance in 2013.
Moreover, manager Stacia Whittaker told journalists today, the charitable organization was seeing a growing number of teenagers who needed help.
She said on average the Food Bank was registering close to 400 people per month and as much as 360 people turn up for assistance. Whittaker said the numbers last year was just around the 300 mark per month.
“We tend to see a little bit more men,” said Whittaker. “Recently we have been getting a lot of teenagers. So parents have been coming in with their teenage sons or daughters. But we get [people] normally within the working age group 25 to 40. Majority of our clients are of that age range. But we [also] get people in their 70s and 60s.”
She made the comments this morning following the donation of some food hampers from the Economic Affairs and Investment Division in the Ministry of Finance to the HIV Food Banks.
She said since summer this year the organization saw “an increase in the difference age ranges coming in for food assistance [and] nutrition assessment”.
Whittaker said, however, the donations were not always meeting the demands. She called on all working Barbadians to help the food bank no matter how small, adding that the organization was assisting people every day, not just this time of year.
“Donations have gone down a bit. We probably can say because of the same economic situation but it has been a challenging year but we still have our faithful contributors that come in no matter what,” she said, expressing thanks to churches and other support organizations that worked closely with the food bank throughout the year.
While 2013 started out “great” for the organization, with donations received close to the end of 2012 spilling over into as far as February of this year, Whittaker said that was however, short-lived.
“So I would say from May to September we had an increase in clientele coming in for assistance or even trying to come a little more often because the food is not stretching as far as they would like it to stretch,” she said, adding that some of the clients lost their jobs or they were working less hours per week.
“And then the summer time came and more clients kept coming. We are having more referrals as well as we get out there and do more testing. So we have more people being referred for food assistance,” added Whittaker.
Expressing thanks for the latest donation, Whittaker said one of the biggest challenges for the organization was helping those living with the disease to fight stigma and discrimination.
She also made an appeal for people to donate “healthier food options”, adding that some people who were coming for assistance also had chronic non-communicable disease.
Nicole Daniel, senior project analyst and Jillian Willoughby, secretary, both in the investment division of the Ministry of Finance, pledged continued support to the Food Bank “despite the economic challenges”.