It took longer than expected, but the first food bank in the Cayman Islands officially opened its doors Thursday, with an evening ribbon cutting ceremony along with a few speeches.
The Rev. Charles Boucher, director of the Good Samaritan Food Bank, said despite the challenges of funding, finding a physical home for the enterprise and government red tape, he never gave up believing in the venture.
“We wanted to open before September, to start with school,” said Mr. Boucher, “but with all the red tape it went on and on.”
The frustration ended Thursday night with the snipping of a ribbon on an industrial warehouse on George Town’s Sleepy Hollow Drive, and a celebration which included the presentation of a $1,500 check to the organization from Corporate Electric, one of many companies that are providing support for the operation. Mr. Boucher’s elation was clear as he addressed a gathering of about 20 people. He predicted that with promised donations and equipment, such as a walk-in freezer, the food bank would quickly make a significant impact in feeding hungry families and supporting agencies such as Meals on Wheels, the Needs Assessment Unit and Feed Our Future.
“I would say in six months from now, we’ll be really surprised,” Mr. Boucher said.
The food bank is an outgrowth of the food pantry Mr. Boucher and his wife, Manon, started in 2008 at the First Assembly of God church, where he serves as co-pastor. Both were involved in food banks in Montreal, their former residence. Mrs. Boucher ran one of the largest food banks in the city, Mr. Boucher said.
The organization said its activities will not only help feed those in need, but cut down on waste by redirecting food, such as usable products that are past their shelf lives and that supermarkets would otherwise throw away.
“Before things go in the garbage, they will come here,” Boucher said. “What is not used here, will go to the farmers for their pigs or whatever.”
Following the ribbon cutting and the speeches, people mingled in the main room of the food bank, where shelves will soon be stacked with canned and dry goods. Board member Marie Eden and her husband, Gene, talked about the need for the food bank’s services.
“It’s time now for this to happen,” Mr. Eden said. “We have so many people that need food. There’s a lot of need in Cayman. You don’t have to go very far off the main roads to see it. What my heart goes out for is the children.”
He said it’s especially important for school children to get the food they need in order to function in the classroom.
The food bank will be working with Feed Our Future to directly address that need, Mr. Boucher said. In addition, helping to supply Meals on Wheels and the Needs Assessment Unit will mean assisting the combined 600 people the two agencies serve.
“We’re not saying we’re going to end hunger,” Mr. Boucher said, “but we’re going to make an impact.”
Woodrow “Woody” Foster, who sits on the board of directors, said he was excited about the prospects of the food bank.
“We have big dreams and we’re going to fulfill those dreams,” Mr. Foster said. “We’re going to make this happen.”