The charity linked to the nation’s most exclusive hotel, Sandy Lane, is to distribute through MPs $1.5 million dollars in grocery vouchers over the next six weeks to help struggling families cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Sandy Lane Charitable Trust’ (SLCT) Feed a Family Programme is to provide poor families in all 30 constituencies throughout the island with vouchers to buy groceries, excluding alcohol and tobacco, at eight selected supermarket chains.
The nation’s 30 Members of Parliament are to administer the programme through their constituency offices, according to the SLCT.
Eligible families for the vouchers will be vetted by the constituency offices and there must be at least one child under the age of 18 living within the household. The vouchers are to be disbursed in three bi-weekly installments, with the first installment coming next week, it said.
Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw praised the contribution, noting that private donors have helped to keep Barbados “afloat” during the crisis.
She said: “A lot of people don’t understand how much Barbados has been able to stay afloat over the course of the last couple of years with the assistance of not just the government, but certainly a number of private donors and a number of persons who have made Barbados their home.
“And to them, I want to say, [a] special thank you for the assistance that they have given to the country, to the people of Barbados, and to thank them for the love that they have shown to this small island in making Barbados a special place in their hearts.”
Board Trustee Phillipa Challis said: “We are aware that many working families in Barbados are already struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we navigate this public health crisis, and carefully move towards restoring full economic activity in Barbados, many businesses either remain closed or have not regained full operation, meaning thousands are still laid off; we need to do everything we can to support families and ensure they can put food on the table.
“As a children’s charity, our primary concern is the health and well-being of our nation’s children. The number of parents who are unable to provide the most basic needs of their children right now is alarming, and at the Trust we recognize the gravity of this situation.
“Together with the government’s response and the efforts of various other non-governmental organizations, we are optimistic that through collective action we can address the long-term consequences for families who are feeling the impact of this global pandemic.”
The Feed a Family programme joins a list of over 100 causes funded and supported by the trust within the past 15 years, worth over 60 million dollars.
Challis said: “Each year we raise over $4 million to sustain our projects which range from as little as providing children with school uniforms to as complex as running our school for special needs children; from those funds, we have set aside an emergency relief reserve in the event of a natural disaster or devastating phenomenon.
“While no one could anticipate a threat of this magnitude, we are pleased to be in a position to use these funds at this critical time.
“Like the rest of the world, as a result of this pandemic, Barbados is now in uncharted territory with still much uncertainty as it relates to the economic impact.
“While there are still many unknowns the reality of the rise in the number of families reaching out for assistance to purchase the basic amenities to feed their families is unmistakable.
“We can only hope this gesture helps to offer a sense of relief and reprieve as we endure this calamity.”
The SLCT has also provided financial assistance to other smaller charities for COVID-19 relief projects and continues to support the work of its philanthropic partners to respond to the crisis through various initiatives.
“The reality is, we are faced with challenging days ahead, we encourage you to continue to be your brother’s and sister’s keeper. No act of kindness goes unnoticed, no contribution is considered too small, let us continue to work together on the behalf of this beloved nation… our country Barbados,” Challis declared.