The charity that helps feed people living with HIV and their families is reporting a dramatic rise in the number of people seeking its support.
And with students out on holiday for the summer, the HIV Food Bank is anticipating even greater demand on its resources.
However, Community Nutrition Officer Stacia Whittaker has made it clear the rising demand did not mean there was an increase in HIV cases here.
“We have seen more persons coming and being referred for food assistance, but an increase in referrals doesn’t mean an increase in diagnosis, it just means persons have fallen on tough times and they are now coming at this time for food assistance,” Whittaker said.
“What we are anticipating now that it is summer time [is that] our clients will need our assistance even more [because] they won’t have the support of school meals to get them through the day,” she explained.
The increasing requests for help is putting additional pressure on the already depleted supplies of the charity, which is reporting a drop in donations in recent times.
Therefore, Whittaker appealed to the public to donate perishable and non-perishable food items and toiletries, including rice, biscuits, crackers, cereal or grains, dairy products, ground provisions, fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as canned or packaged soup and breakfast items, such as tea and hot chocolate.
“Initially, even though we are assisting persons living with HIV who may be the head of a household, it will also benefit other persons within the home who can now get something to eat . . . . The magnitude that a donation goes is mind-boggling. These persons may have children and its impacts on them.
“We have been having some donations but they have not been going as far as we would want them to go so that we can adequately provide the food hampers we need for our clients who come on a daily basis,” Whittaker stressed. (KB)