#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.
“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.
Press Release: Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) Bahamas
February 3, 2023 – ILM Bahamas Centre held its Certificate Presentation Ceremony for Cohort 7. The cohort consisted of fourteen (14) Senior Immigration Officers from the Department of Immigration. This Cohort was a hybrid of in-person and online learning. Four of the Immigration Officers were from the Family Islands (Grand Bahama, Abaco, Berry Islands and Eleuthera).
Present at the ceremony were: The Hon. Keith Bell, Minister of Labour and Immigration, Madam Justice J. Denise Lewis-Johnson, Permanent Secretary Ms. Ceceila Strachan, Executive Chair of NTA Ms. Agatha Marcelle, Executive Director of NTA Mr. Terry Murray, Director of Immigration Mrs. Keturah Ferguson, Deputy Director of Immigration Mr. Dwight Beneby, Ms. Esther McKinney Office Manager at the Department of Immigration.
The guest speaker at the ceremony was Dr. Donald M. McCartney a Leadership and Management Consultant with Motivation Incorporated Bahamas and the United States. He was a former senior public servant. He was also a First Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service with responsibility for the Northern Bahamas. He was also a former educator and professor at various colleges in the United States.
In his address to ILM Cohort 7, Dr. McCartney spoke about having the courage to lead and that leadership goes beyond SELF. It’s not about you or your ego but rather more about contributing to nation building. He said, “We must be prepared to take the bold steps that would not lead us into the abyss of despair but on the road that leads us to lift up our heads to the rising sun and press onward to the mountaintop experience, which will lead us to become the proud and productive people we were destine to be.” He also expanded on the four fundamental virtues: COURAGE, TEMPERANCE, JUSTICE AND WISDOM. Additionally, he expanded on the focus and influence of courage, on the ego and discipline.
The Hon. Keith Bell, Minister of Labour and Immigration brought brief remarks on the occasion. Some of the highlights of his speech were that Immigration is one of the highest revenue earners, challenges within the Department of Immigration such as lack of autonomy from the Public Service as compared to the other armed forces. He also talked about that the fact that the top tier is going to be retired within two years and this would be an opportunity for many of the graduates of this Cohort 7 to gain upward mobility.
He also stated that there needs to be a complete overhaul of the Immigration Act, and a review of the Asylum Bill. Furthermore, he discussed the inevitable need for the relocation of the Department of Immigration from its current location. Lastly, he stated that we must tread a delicate balance between enforcing the law and being humane, in regards to shanty towns.
It is noteworthy that the ILM Centre at the National Training Agency recently obtained a Centre upgrade. The ILM Centre Bahamas now hold the statue of Direct Claim Status with City and Guilds of London. Additionally, the Centre is now registered with the National Accreditation and Equivalency Council of the Bahamas (NAECOB) for all of its current course offerings. The ILM Department is lead Miss Pamela Gomez as the ILM Centre Coordinator. Registration is now open for Level 2 Certificate in Leadership and Team Skill and Level 3 Certificate in Leadership and Management. Our mission statement is, “Helping people, organizations, and economies develop their skills for growth.”
For more information, contact the ILM Centre Bahamas located in the Gladstone Road Business Centre by calling 461-6021 or 461-6008.
Sugar and salt tax campaigns gaining steam
By Dana Malcolm
February 7, 2023 – A global battle on sugar and salt is ramping up as the United States joins The Bahamas and Barbados in creating proposals for historic sugar and salt laws.
The country’s Agricultural Department for the first time in history, proposed a cap on the amount of sugar to be allowed in school meals.
The World Health Organization has found that North America and the Caribbean have the highest rates of childhood diabetes in the world and based on the International Diabetes Federation’s Diabetes Atlas we also have the second highest prevalence of Diabetes overall for all global regions at 14 percent or 51 million people with a projected 24 percent increase in just 22 years.
Barbados, the United States, Canada, Haiti, Mexico, Belize and St. Kitts and Nevis are all suffering from incredibly high rates of diabetes.
Barbados and The Bahamas announced sugar taxes last month; the hope is to reduce the importation and sale of sugar and salt rich foods.
Advocates across the Caribbean including Jamaica, Trinidad, and others have been campaigning for sugar taxes in their own countries with support from the public.
Now the proposed nutritional rules for the United States would set firm boundaries on how much salt and sugar can legally be added to meals, setting a new standard as most food imports for countries like The Bahamas are from the US.
The plan for the US is expected to be rolled out by 2025.
The rules, are unapologetically an attempt to cut down incidences of diabetes and other diseases fueled by unhealthy diets, according to media reports.
For now, the quantities on sugar and salt additives is an idea waiting wider consultation.
TCI Office in Bahamas identified
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, February 7, 2023 – An office space has already been identified for an all-new TCI Immigration office in The Bahamas according to Arlington Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services.
Musgrove told Magnetic Media that the ministry was “almost there” in regard to securing the space; it indicates the Government is moving full speed ahead with plans for the passing of the new Immigration Bill which will allow third-generation TC Islanders citizenship, even as the public awaits consultations on it.
The announcement of the bill had caused some skepticism among islanders, some of whom wanted the government to focus on keeping TC Islanders at home instead of recruiting others. Musgrove however had made it clear that the TCI was in a population crisis and would need to slow down PRC naturalisation rates and naturalise people with historical, familial and cultural connections to the land or risk going ‘extinct’.
The office will work to deepen the relationship between the two sister countries even more and help increase the TCI’s population offsetting the need for masses of external labour according to the government.
When passed, the rule will apply to third-generation islanders everywhere, not only in The Bahamas giving them a free ticket to come home.
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