Despite support from both the private and public sector, the HIV Food Bank is finding it hard to meet the needs of its clients.
Stacia Whittaker, community nutrition officer in the Ministry of Health and manager of the HIV Food Bank, said the organisation was working hard to meet the demand for those who are most in need.
“We are dealing with clients who are in need of assistance in order to feed themselves and their families. These are persons who are confronted with socioeconomic issues as they are unable to work or they are just not earning enough to cover their nutrition needs,” she said.
Whittaker was speaking after telecoms provider Flow continued its support for the Food Bank with a donation of $1,500 worth of vouchers. The company has been supporting the Food Bank with annual donations since 2014.
“We have clients who lack mobility and they are in a wheelchair and some others are extremely weak because they are emaciated, but it’s heart-warming to watch as they progress and get their strength back which results in them having a positive body image which certainly helps in their overall journey,” she said.
“We also map our clients so we can see how they are responding to treatment in addition to the nutritional support. At first, we were focused on feeding our clients but over time we have focused on providing them with wholesome foods. This is why we are happy for the vouchers because it will allow us to keep our shelves stocked and at the same time we can also use the vouchers to purchase items that are not readily available to be donated.”
Whittaker said the Food Bank was also hoping to expand the items it offered. “Our community in Barbados is used to non-perishable items and we are certainly happy to receive them. However, we are seeking variation because many of our clients also suffer with non-communicable diseases, so we want to not only feed them but provide nutritious foods so they can better fight their illness,” she said.
“While it may appear that we are always appealing for support, we do it because there is simply a need to be met. People will always be with us, and unfortunately, people who are not well are literally unable to feed themselves. While the Food Bank is just one element in their treatment, it is a critical element for them and their families,” she stressed. (PR)