Cayman Food Bank opens pantry in East End

Alternative location offers easier access to outer districts

Isaac Rankine, chairman of the East End Community Foundation and Cayman Food Bank volunteer; and Winston Lightbody, Cayman Food Bank volunteer; stand in the recently opened East End pantry.

The Good Samaritan’s Cayman Food Bank is one of the many local charities stepping up to help the community in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.

Established in December 2017, the food bank’s original main objective was to combat childhood hunger, but it has had to cast a wider net at present as hundreds of local residents are now without jobs and unable to afford the basic necessities.

One of its volunteers, Alric Lindsay, said that an increase in unemployed members of the population, coupled with a group of vulnerable seniors, has made it necessary for the organisation to assist all ages.

“We are partnered with Meals on Wheels, the Needs Assessment Unit and Feed Our Future,” said Lindsay. “We’ll reassess the situation after the COVID-19 threat is gone, and life is back to normal, but for now, we need to help as many as we can.”

To that end, the food bank opened a pantry in East End about a month ago to provide easy access for those in the eastern districts. It is located in the East End Community Foundation building.

“Our main warehouse is next to CUC in George Town,” Lindsay said. “That is obviously convenient for people in that area, but not for everyone.”

Items are donated to the food bank, and then the volunteers sort them into different categories. These are then distributed to various charities as needed.

Inspecting the items in stock. Donations are welcome.

Beyond managing the food donations, the approximately 30 food bank volunteers help with deliveries and hand out groceries. Although they do not have individuals visit the warehouse in George Town – and now the pantry in East End – they set up pickup locations, such as the First Assembly of God church on Old Crewe Road, following the soft curfew regulations regarding A-K and L-Z assigned days.

While people are usually required to register to access the food bank, Lindsay said he appreciates that these are extraordinary times so the usual formal assessments and methods of registration have been relaxed.

“People are welcome to simply show up to one of our distribution events, so long as they are willing to give us some details about themselves once they are there,” he said.

Food and monetary donations have been coming in from private members of the public as well as companies. There has also been an upswing in numbers willing to volunteer.

Unlike some other charities, the food bank is a seven-days-a-week operation. With more demand than ever, the East End location should cut down on travel time for some deliveries.

“Many people would rather be working than asking for help,” said Lindsay, “but these are difficult times for so many. They are all very grateful for the assistance and it makes our day to see them happy when they are given the groceries or receive a hot meal.”

Those needing assistance can register online at www.caymanfoodbank.com or call Marie Eden at 916-8006. To donate to the food bank or get more information, go to its website.

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