Food bank sees seven-fold increase in need

| 26/05/2020 | 66 Comments
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Food bank has seen a massive increase in the number of people in need of their support since the COVID-19 shutdown. The charity has been distributing food to hundreds of people who need it on Wednesdays and Saturdays from the First Assembly of God car park. According to officials, they have seen a seven-fold increase in people attending and are struggling to keep up.

Marie Eden, the director of operations for the local food bank, explained how challenging things are becoming.

“We went from seeing 100 families a week to 700 and more and it’s growing,” she said. “On one recent Saturday, more than 300 people were given bags of food. Toward the end of the distribution, it looked as if some people might be turned away empty handed, but the volunteers scoured the agency’s pantry and were able to provide some food to everyone in line.”

But Eden said she’s not sure whether that will continue to be possible. “We’re constantly asking for donations,” she said. “The community has been stepping up, but we don’t know how long that will last.”

The food bank is being supported by a group of UCCI student volunteers who are using the work to also help them with the credits required for their social work courses. “We wouldn’t be able to do this without them,” Eden said. “We went from seeing 100 families a week to 700 and more and it’s growing.”

Given the current circumstance, students are getting a taste of the type of work they might have to do in their future careers. Maureen Brooks, the fieldwork education liaison for UCCI’s social work programme, said students are getting a good look at the role of social work in a crisis.

“They are seeing and understanding how to deal with people who may not have been in a situation like this before, who now may be embarrassed, or some even angry, about having to come to look for food,” she said. “It’s a good experience for social work students to know how to respond to the different emotions people demonstrate in situations like this.”

The students are helping with some administrative work, but they are also putting food bags together and distributing them.

Estefanie Barnett, one of the students who helped collect info from the clients and hand out the vouchers for the food, said her parents ran a charter company before the virus shutdown, so she understood how so many people have been thrust into needing assistance. Helping at the food bank, she said, “is rewarding, but at the same time humbling”.

Her colleague, Rochella Moya, said the experience has been eye opening. “It just shows you that a lot of people out there are in need,” Moya said. “It allows us to see what we would do in a crisis situation. When you talk about it in class it’s completely different.”

Felicia Robinson, director of UCCI’s social work programme, said this is the first time students have done some of their required fieldwork hours at the Cayman Food Bank. Just before the shelter-in-place order was effected to protect people from the coronavirus she was talking with the food bank about having students help the organisation with client assessments and administrative work.

When the 12 government programmes where students do their fieldwork shut down, the partnership with the food bank was cemented. Robinson said that once the crisis is over, she plans to continue to use the Cayman Food Bank as an avenue for her students to get experience.

Cash donations for the Food Bank can be made to:

Bank: Cayman National Bank
Account Name: The Good Samaritan Food Bank
KYD Account Number: 01115055

Anyone who wants to help can contact Phillip Hyre at 926-6111 or

Donations can be made in person, using social distancing and all necessary precautions, to either of the below locations:

  • Rosedale Warehouse, Unit 11, 51 Sleepy Hollow Drive (across from Progressive Distributors near CUC)
  • First Assembly of God, 195 Old Crewe Road (across from the roundabout by King’s Gym)

For more information, visit the Cayman Food Bank website.

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Comments (66)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    My heart goes out to those who are truly in need. However, how do you monitor those that are still working, receiving an income, but still choose to go from location to location just to collect all they can get without having any regard for anyone else.

    • Anonymous says:

      You require recipients to confirm they are unemployed and in need and if you catch any lying you prosecute them mercilessly for fraud. It is that simple. Speak softly and carry a big stick. It is efficient and it works!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hands up how many of you out there who has asked for and gotten money from the politicians over the years? Each and everyone of you have benefitted from their salaries. Even if the government was to cut politicians and civil servants pay I hope you all understand that they will not be handing the cash out to you. It would be used for the entire Cayman Islands. Allayou will be better off if your politician continue to hand you the dollars personally.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Boarders Without Borders. An international low-end-tourism charity.

    Borders closed to boarders means tourism is inevitably closed too.

    It’s borderline though. And I’m bored.

  4. Vera says:

    Like many others this government has decimated its economy but unlike the rest seems to only be able to focus on one thing at a time – this is evidenced by a complete lack of planning on returning to any sort of economic plan to undo the damage they have created.
    They have sadly also displayed that they are unable to put their hand up and admit any mistakes throughout their reaction.

    The money in Government coffers belongs to the entire Caymanian population, not just Government and its employees, yet the government pensions are protected and no pay cuts for MLA’s – this separates everyone into either the private sector or Government rather than one country – sadly is not what the premiere professes to believe in, every week at the press conferences.

    In my opinion – the 60 lives that will be lost in world as a result of governments lock downs for every 1 life that will be lost from Covid related symptoms (Economist) points to the real problem and the lack of empathy shown by governments as well as their need for control over people result in.

    • Anonymous says:

      And to add insult to injury, this Government, whose actions have destroyed so many local businesses and deprived many of us of jobs now and in the foreseeable future, are going to start making their rounds handing out grocery vouchers to the electorate, pretending that they are saving us from the disaster that they created in the first place.
      This what we have been reduced to and it’s where they want to keep us. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want their handouts, because that is only an immediate solution and comes at a high price. This is how local politicians buy votes. That is what they think of us, that we are all fools and beggars!
      And where is the money for these vouchers coming from? And why is it that politicians are giving us handouts? Who gave them the money to do this? And how are they in return going to repay their donors for this supposed generosity?
      Why would we want to become dependent on handouts? Especially handouts from politicians? Do you really think, after seeing how the premier behaved the other day, that they have our welfare in mind?
      We deserve more than a handout today. Do they think we don’t have any sense or dignity?

      • Anonymous says:

        Damn right.. Before I beg a cent of my own money I am out of here. BC Canada looking nice mong

      • Anonymous says:

        11:52am… if you think the Government is worried about you/us you are mistaken. Expats/Status Holders (poverty stricken), and work permit holders are their target! Not us. We have been suffering and continue to suffer. Money going to finish real soon!! Then what???

  5. Anonymous says:

    6.51 – couldn’t agree more! Where is the compassion for those suffering right this moment, not a fantasy he’s obsessed with.

    Let’s not forget the initial images in Italy that scared everyone into this behavior and the death tolls – the Italian health minister has stated 88% of those numbers were NOT Covid – let that sink in!

    When does Alden have to return the islands to the people and stop his dictatorship, when is there accountability, when is the ‘emergency’ over? Closing the island is an outrageous decision based on fear that is derived by media hype not facts! Even the CDC in the US is now having to admit their numbers are wrong! Also ask yourself how many autopsy’s were conducted worldwide in the last few months, exactly people did not die from Covid19, in Cayman did they even do an autopsy of the tourist? He didn’t die from Covid19!

  6. Anonymous says:

    It’s ok though because Alden can still pay HIS bills off the peanuts he earns. What a guy! Bravo

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is just another great example of how politicians “protect” people.

    • Anonymous says:

      People who work here send there money overseas and expect government or the general public to take care of them.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Don’t worry folks, this will get MUCH worse.

    Let’s see what the total devastation cost will be next year from hurricane Alden.

  9. Anonymous says:

    This is due to the gross mismanagement of the Covid 19. Remember Alden intends to keep the borders closed until at least September, or until there is a vaccine. A vaccine that still has not been found. Projections are 6 months to 8 years.
    What the government has done is ruin thousands of lives in order to protect us from a perceived threat my to the public. A threat so great that no one is in hospital and no one has locally has died. Expect for the gentlemen with the massive cardiac event. We have been in lock down of some form for 2 months and as Alden mentioned probably for four more.

  10. Round and Round in circles we go says:

    There are 19 MLA’s, receiving a salary of at least $10,000 per month and some also a pension as well. If they all gave $1000 per month, just think what $19,000 could do for the Food Bank etc.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Things are ugly here in West Bay….go in back of the Turtle Farm and look down the shore at 60 ‘fishermen crowding the rocks’ take a stroll and see the faces of despair. The population has exploded with every old house anything ‘affordable’ being packed — or all the family members returning to the old family house where no rent need be paid.

    Crazy times

  12. Not Bermuda says:

    Cayman is not Bermuda. Stop comparing Cayman to Bermuda. In Bermuda expats can’t own or rent a car. Expats can’t own land and they have less than 5000 guest workers. Cayman still has over 30,000 guest workers. We are two different places.

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you sure? Check your facts.

    • Anonymous says:

      As a former resident of Bermuda, I can tell you that you are wrong.

      Expats can own both cars and land. There are certain restrictions and applicable taxes but it is definitely allowed.

      As for the “guest workers” – Cayman has a much bigger tourism industry than Bermuda, partially due to the fact that it is not hot there all year round.

      They are different places but there are a lot of similarities.

      P.S – I like living here WAY more.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Better wake up Cayman….these guys don’t mean you good….any politician refusing to take a pay-cut to help the community…doesn’t mean you any good….please remember this next year election ….God willing.

  14. Anonymous says:

    This is just the beginning of the misery, open the economy and safe what you can safe. We are not incompetent idiots and we can protect ourself with the appropriate social distancing and masks. There is no objective reason for this lockdown, no-one is hospitalized for Covid 19, since the 26th of April we don’t have any symptomatic cases. What is going on with this Government and this ILLEGAL lock down. Businesses that been forced into bankruptcy through those illegal actions should sue this Government for compensation! Idi Alden wants to be the ruler that personally gets what business gets to survive and which doesn’t.

    • Anonymous says:

      You say you’re not incompetent idiots, yet you cannot seem to write a statement that is coherent.

      • Anonymous says:

        don’t you have anything better to do than make fun of people
        Incompetent idiot you Karma can be a bitch
        Worry about the times not the way a person writes.

  15. Anonymous says:

    In the meantime some of those people are nau recipients for years ,how come they can’t make it now ? And God knows some of those people there are still on pay,

    • Anonymous says:

      Mac’s mass grants grandchildren are now following the family pattern of dependence on NAU.

      • Anonymous says:

        8:29am. NAU is the liability noose that government created. Do proper assessment and let the lazy ones find a job.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Can you do a human interest piece including the photos of people impacted by this unending lockdown? Those who go to bed hungry, those who must accept handouts from churches and charities while the government does nothing but have you fill out forms which the government the ignores?

    Things won’t change until we personify the hell so many of us are in right now.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not needed. If you require faces to convince you this is real, you’re a moron.

      • Anonymous says:

        The point is it’s all too real to many people, and all too theoretical to the government.

    • Caymanite says:

      Maybe you can also post photos of those who take all they can get from whoever they can and then get in line to send money overseas all the while cursing Cayman.

      • Anonymous says:

        do not sow hatred, in these circumstances it is what we need the least, we must be positive and instead of sowing hatred better let us join hands and help those who need it, if we all do our bit we can make a difference, god bless you

        • Anonymous says:

          9:48pm. How many of them have children with no father figure to assist them? Have they ever held a job? Have they ever sought employment? Too many are ready to stretch their hands out but not willing to use those hands to help themselves. Give them the tools to work.

      • Anonymous says:

        @caymanite – Ah yes….there’s that Caymankind. What a great example you are.

      • Anonymous says:

        @Caymanite. Please don’t be so judgemental. You don’t know the misery of people and their poor families. Maybe their children at home are starving and they have to send everything they can to support them while going hungry themselves and relying on a handout of some beans and soup. All while being separated from their family who may be sick or in danger. You can’t even understand how stressful that must be.

      • Anonymous says:

        True dat!

      • Anonymous says:

        8:33 Yes! Now that would be a story of interest.

      • Anonymous says:

        8:33pm. Watch how they maneuver.

      • Anon says:

        8.33pm Expat Girl was vilified for complaining about Caymanians just like you.As always the truth hurts.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Thanks CNS for the story. I have just made a donation.

  18. Anonymous says:

    This is happening because the lockdown was done without any real though and is still continuing. Have the lockdown down lasted a month, with everyone tested, and protect those that need protecting.The economy could have reopen up without a doubt. The people and businesses that are affected then need to be compensated. The people getting a grant for living allowances and the businesses getting a grant for working capital this would have getting economy up and running and better than before. But a I looked at the people in the line it is the poor and disenchanted that are immensely affected. How can this be? If all the people had lost income no one would be in support of this continuing lockdown. I am sorry but the leaders of this country you have missed the chance to show that Cayman is a blessed country and was under the guidance of a Devine entity. I am no longer hoping for the best.

  19. Anonymous says:

    How do you give to the food bank? Can you donate goods at grocery stores?

    CNS: I’ve added the details.

  20. Anonymous says:

    This is just the start.
    With boarders closed till there is a vaccine or treatment it will be a sad state to see.
    Strange how other Caribbean islands and countries around the world are opening to tourism but we are locking down for longer.

    • Anonymous says:

      Tourism? From where?

      • Anonymous says:

        The vast majority of our tourists come from the US. Look at the Memorial Day pictures and tell me that Americans are so frightened of the virus that they will stay at home. The first chance they got they flocked to beaches and parks to be outside and away from lock down. Do you think that they really see travelling to Cayman as risky, particularly given our low numbers? Think we will see a surge in tourism numbers for those Caribbean countries like Antigua and St Lucia that are reopening.

        • Anonymous says:

          @11.48 Nail. On. Head. First chance they get, our northern neighbours will be kicking down the doors to get here. And would provide some welcome relief for the beleaguered tourist industry. But they won’t be allowed because CIG will keep the borders shut until who knows when. So they’ll go elsewhere and we’ll lose out. Madness!

          • Anonymous says:

            They will be kicking down the door with the virus. The ones who frown on wearing masks or staying two meters apart will be the ones taking the cheap cruises if they can afford it. Then you will really see a “lock down”

        • Anonymous says:

          America land of the free and home of the brave. If they going down, its in a blaze of glory.

          Got to love their spirit!

          As Winston said, you can count of America to do the right thing after they have run out of options. Clearly they don’t feel their back is against the wall.

          What’s 100,000 of 333 million., its not enough to give up freedom or bravery apparently. At least their winning spirit is lifting our pension accounts!

    • Anonymous says:

      And as soon as we open up and get more cases, you’ll be the first to want to lock it down again. There is absolutely no way of pleasing everyone in this situation. Even if we had massive deaths, there would still be those that would want to stay open. Thankfully, we’re not in that situation, but I have no doubt that if we were, there would still be many of you that wouldn’t give two sh!ts

  21. Anonymous says:

    …and soon to get worse, while our elected employees relax in their ivory towers that we paid for.

  22. Anonymous says:

    thats what you get…when you cripple the private sector.
    the cayman economy is doomed.

  23. Anonymous says:

    and alden still has no plan for the economy…

    • Anonymous says:

      And taking their outrageous salaries & pensions. If they gave 10% each from their annual salaries that would buy a huge amount of groceries. Aldens ‘I’m alright jack’ & ‘we work hard’ makes me want to hit him & I’ve never been tempted to do that to anyone before. The nurses & grocery store workers (& so many others) work hard & harder than ever before, for a fraction of their fat cat salaries.

  24. Anonymous says:

    It is outrageous that it has come to this. Government has had plenty of warning of what was happening, and is paying thousands of people to sit at home and do nothing while charities and the private sector struggle to deal with the fall-out of government’s own actions. How are those repatriation flights going? If you are going to create circumstances whereby thousands of unemployed Caymanians and foreign nationals need help, and you do not provide effective exit routes for expatriates that want or need to leave, then you need to provide for their sustenance. It is as simple as that.

    • Anonymous says:

      What the hell are you even talking about and where the hell have you been?

    • Anonymous says:

      The repatriation flights are effective exit routes for foreigners who want to leave. What are you on about? Do you know how many are staying instead of going home in “hopes of getting another job here” just adding to the community burden.

      • Anonymous says:

        Show me a repatriation flight to Jamaica – which is the destination they are most needed to. There was plenty of time to help people leave, and we did nothing. Now we are starting to feel the inevitable consequences of that failure, together with an ongoing failure to apply appropriate pressure. How come Jamaicans in the USA are able to return to their homeland? Why not those in Cayman?

        • Anonymous says:

          Jamaica dont want them from cayman. The US is using Visa bans against Jamaica. Please read before you make stupid comments.

          • Anonymous says:

            So why does Cayman not issue visa bans for Jamaicans if Jamaica will not take its own citizens back on any reasonable basis?

  25. Anonymous says:

    Think of how much food could be bought with a 12.5% cut in the salaries of our poor underpaid politicians.

    • Anonymous says:

      CNS. This is the most important article written in several weeks. Hopefully this reality will be compared with our other reality, empty beds in our hospitals and additional temporary hospitals.

    • Anonymous says:

      Alden dismissed Wendy’s question as outrageous, but Bermuda had just cut their salaries so there was definitely context.

      Alden’s comments whether he should take a pay cut or not we’re pretty offensive to those who are struggling right now.

      Everywhere else is opening up and we still sit in a draconian lockdown because Alden painted himself into a corner.

      • Anonymous says:

        There’s never any answer to the questions about help for Caymanians. And this is. not an expat Caymanian thing. I know there are lots of people struggling right now and everybody needs and deserves help. But this is Cayman and there should be a plan for the Caymanian people. NAU was overstretched before this. Yes, they may have new staff but I would bet they cannot keep up with the demand. What is the plan if or when the charities run out of money? I feel like the government has no idea how people are struggling. Some families lost one income – others two, three or more. From having money every week or month to nothing. Food prices have increased quite a lot. A lot of people don’t have savings. I hate the answer given when a reporter asked how many Caymanians have lost their jobs. A smirk and “I don’t keep that information in my head” or something similar. No offer to have the information available at the next briefing. If you care about your people like you say you do, whenever adding more lock down or restrictions on us, you would know how many of your people are unemployed and/or struggling. Believe it or not, many people were struggling before all this due to the ridiculous cost of living and doing business here. Have any of them gone to any of the charities to help distribute soup, food, food vouchers etc. They need to get off their pedestals to see what is really happening.

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