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Bahamas Feeding Network Thanks Government for Assistance to Households Struggling to Put Food on Tables

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Philip Smith, BFN Executive Director

#Nassau, The Bahamas – October 22, 2020 – For 14 years, Philip Smith has been feeding the hungry, first with loaves of bread he baked in his small apartment. For the last seven years as executive director of Bahamas Feeding Network, he has headed an unprecedented volunteer effort that has provided more than one million hot meals to those who most desperately need help. But never has he seen the extent of hunger explode as it has in the last seven months since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and widespread unemployment.

“Hunger, especially in households with young children and among the elderly, was a major problem before, but in many ways, it was a quiet problem. Now with the coronavirus pandemic, the stark reality of hunger is staring us in the face and we are extremely grateful to the government of The Bahamas for their intervention which has made it possible to feed more than 55,000 households or 220,000 individuals,” he said. “For organizations like the Bahamas Feeding Network and all of us who are currently working within the framework of the National Food Security Task Force, we need to pause, take a deep breath and thank the administration for recognizing the depth and breadth of the extent of hunger, and funding its relief to the best of the government’s ability.” 

According to Smith, nearly one in every two households in The Bahamas is struggling to put food on the table, double the figure of just a few months ago. The Bahamas Feeding Network, Bahamas Red Cross, Hands for Hunger, Lend a Hand, One Eleuthera Foundation, The Grand Bahama Food Task Force and IDEA Relief in Abaco make up the National Food Security Task Force which is now providing food parcels and food vouchers for more than 55,000 households or an estimated 220,000 people every week.

“That is more than 50% of the population of The Bahamas,” said Smith, “and that does not include those who are too proud to ask for assistance or are surviving on a minimal diet heavy in starches and carbohydrates, inexpensive but not the healthiest of diets which is another problem we are trying to deal with, using this crisis to encourage healthier choices.”

While the figure of half of all local households struggling to put food on the table is staggering, it is not far from the overall global rise in hunger.

“By comparison,” Smith said, “the estimate pre-pandemic was that one in every eight or about one billion people around the world suffer from either chronic or acute hunger during normal times with the highest numbers being in Africa. Recently, the head of the United Nations World Food Programme reported a tripling since the pandemic, mirroring what The Bahamas is experiencing.” 

 In the U.S., a Brookings Institute survey at the end of April, just months after the pandemic started, found that two in five households with mothers with children 12 and under were food insecure.

Donation made to Bahamas Feeding Network by Bahamas Government in 2018

“And those figures are close to what we experienced in The Bahamas. Prior to the pandemic, it was about one in every seven people and now it is three times that,” he continued. “The silver lining, if there is one, is that we anticipate the spike that tripled the need to feed will diminish as jobs return, but in the meantime we appreciate government’s sensitivity to the desperate situation that would exist if it were not for its understanding of the need and its willingness to tackle it.”

The government is spending about $1 million a week to combat hunger and this week announced it would extend the work of the task force, originally scheduled to end this month, to December 31.  

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Bahamas News

TCI & Bahamas and over 20 other countries put at higher risk by CDC, Residents say DIVERSIFY

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#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – ‘We need to diversify!’ is the main call from residents of the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas after the recent bumping of their countries to a level 4 in the US, Centres for Disease Control’s Travel Health Notice index. The Turks and Caicos Islands along with the Bahamas, Cayman, Bonaire, Curaçao Trinidad and Tobago and 16 other countries were officially added to the CDC’s level 4 list on Tuesday.

Jamaica was also moved up to level three.

Level 4 is the highest level of risk according to the CDC and non-essential travel, including vacations, to countries listed as such is not advised by the organization.

Despite a record breaking year for arrivals, one TCI resident said, “Maybe now the PNP will put something credible into place to go with their words about diversifying the economy.”

A Bahamian resident added his views from Grand Bahama.

“Tourism is running the whole country, which is ridiculous because every time something goes down in the rest of the world tourism is the first thing that drops off.  With Covid you think they would have learned a lesson, no, they’re still using Tourism as a base for everything.”

This is a blow for all the Caribbean countries listed, who are still trying to rebound from 2020’s economic shocks due to the freeze on travel and tourism when the Coronavirus Pandemic first started.

It is especially difficult for the Turks and Caicos which mandates that travelers must have travel insurance to vacation on the islands as level 4 ratings makes that security more difficult to procure.

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Bahamas News

Back to the Bush, Traditional Remedies make a Come-back

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

VERVINE

You may know it as the Wild Hyssop; American blue verbena, mosquito plant, holy herb or simpler’s joy. You may even know it because of its rich purple colour or its tiny and delicate leaves and five-petaled blossoms. But what you really need to know is that Vervain has several healing properties; it is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antispasmodic, and analgesic (pain-relieving).

Among its purported benefits, vervain is used to treat headaches, other aches and pain, insomnia, digestive dysfunction, depression and anxiety, and upper respiratory tract infections.

This means it’s perfect for the time we live in now as the coronavirus infamously attacks respiratory systems.

 

NEEM

Neem – the tree for solving global problems grows “almost anywhere” in the lowland tropics.

So, if you don’t already have the broad-leaved evergreens in your backyard, it’s not too late to start growing it.

Every part of the Neem tree is beneficial: the bark, leaves, seed, fruit, and twigs. It has over 130 biologically active compounds that can keep viral and bacterial diseases at bay. It is also a powerful immune stimulant.

Yes, it is bitter and has a garlic, nutty aroma but that is a sign that it is good for your body but not so good if you are trying to become pregnant, according to experts on the plant.

Neem is “A” class, which means it is antiviral (inhibits the growth of viruses), antifungal (inhibits the growth of fungi), antibacterial (destroys the growth of bacteria), analgesic (provides pain relief), anti-inflammatory (reduces certain signs of inflammation, swelling or tenderness), antimicrobial (destroys the growth of microorganisms) and it is age-defying.

 

MORINGA

As everyone is in survival mode, Moringa, the survival food, which contains all the nutritional elements may be just what you need.

moringa leaf and powder capsule on a wooden background

Moringa has protein, calcium, eight of the nine essential amino acids, iron, Vitamin C and A minerals and more. The best part is that all parts of the Moringa plant have their unique health properties and you have different ways to use the plant.

Moringa leaves can be dried and grounded in powder form or as supplements. You can also use it to make an essential oil as well as a delicious drink from fresh leaves.

To improve both health, cure digestive disorders, protect your heart and cardiovascular system, reduce blood sugar levels, boost energy levels and immunity, try Moringa.

 

CERASEE

“Go home Elena, go home Elena, go boil Cerasee fi yuh belly” – This Caribbean folk song was loved more than the plant itself. But if your grandmother could not convince you enough, COVID-19 is here to remind you that your body needs to remain healthy and Cerasee can add to your body that renewed look and feel. The fruit, leaves, and seeds of the bitter melon plant have medicinal properties and are used as traditional medicine in many parts of the world. The herb is a natural detoxifier, containing vitamins A and C, as well as phosphorus and iron.

It is mostly used to make a hot beverage to calm symptoms of hypertension, diabetes, liver problems, fever, and constipation.

 

LEAF OF LIFE

Miracles still happen and if you do not believe, have a nice warm tea or a cool blended drink made from the Leaf of Life. You can also enjoy the raw plant. The tall, erect, succulent perennial herb is native to Madagascar and has become naturalised in tropical and subtropical areas.

It is used as a herbal remedy to treat respiratory conditions like asthma, colds, coughs, shortness of breath and bronchitis. The Life plant has several health and beauty benefits and the good news is, you can even have it as a houseplant.

 

ALOE VERA

Aloe for the hair, aloe for the skin, and aloe is also for the immune system.

The Aloe Vera plant is packed full of immune-boosting polysaccharides, just what you need now to strengthen your body and build resistance against harmful bacteria and viruses. Along with being used in cosmetics, the thick, short-stemmed plant has antioxidant and antibacterial properties that help to inhibit the growth of certain bacteria that can cause infections in humans.

It also enhances insulin sensitivity and helps improve blood sugar management, so if you are diabetic, it is good to add Aloe Vera to your medicinal list.

 

PAPAYA

A single papaya contains more than 200% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C, another booster for your immune system.

Papaya trees are almost everywhere on the island, so you have no excuses. Moreover, the nutrition filled fruit is not only a healthy choice, it’s a tasty one too.

Add papaya to your fruit salad, scoop the raw fruit with a spoon, blend the seeds into a creamy salad dressing and don’t forget to add the green fruit to your meat pot.

As you enjoy the juiciness and freshness of the fruit, it will help your body to reduce stress, prevent cholesterol build-up, arthritis, and ageing.  The leaves are also proven to be helpful in preventing cancer.

Papaya is also one of nature’s natural contraceptives, they say.

 

LEMONGRASS

This tall grass-like herb has a fresh, clean, lemony scent.

Lemongrass or Fever grass is commonly taken orally, applied directly to the skin, or inhaled as aromatherapy.

It contains substances that can relieve pain and swelling, reduce fever, improve levels of sugar and cholesterol in the blood, stimulate the uterus and menstrual flow, and it has antioxidant properties.

A hot cup of lemongrass tea every morning can significantly improve your health.

Also, the leaves and the oil are used to make medicine. So what better way to enjoy the benefits of this herb than to grab it fresh from your backyard and enjoy the pure scent and the soothing taste?

 

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