~ Cooperation between SMDF, the Netherlands Red Cross, Freegan Food Foundation, K1 DIRECT, COME Center and The Captain’s Rib Shack ~
SIMPSON BAY— The Netherlands Red Cross, Sint Maarten Development Fund, Freegan Food Foundation, K1 DIRECT, COME Center and the Captain’s Rib Shack will be rolling out a food assistance project for those who have been severely financially impacted by the COVID-19 crisis for the next 3 months. Last week, the partners reached an agreement about the program. Agreements have also been reached with government for cooperation.
The Dutch Ministry of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations (BZK ) is providing the means to support this project. It is one of the various assistance programs to help those with no- or low-income on Sint Maarten, Aruba and Curacao to cope with the economic fallout due to the pandemic. BZK granted 16 million euros to the Netherlands Red Cross that will be shared across the three islands based on population and between six organizations. In total, 3,145 million euros is available for Sint Maarten for food assistance.
Sint Maarten Development Fund and Red Cross will be providing the coordination of this joint effort. “We are looking forward to a close collaboration with all partners”. Makhicia Brooks, director of SMDF, said. “As SMDF, we will also provide a linking pin between other initiatives on the island regarding food assistance to avoid duplication as much as possible”.
The economic impact of COVID-19 is causing that humanitarian assistance is needed. Humanitarian assistance will be aimed at all persons in need on Sint Maarten. The project will offer various types of food assistance in an effort to cater to the personal situation persons find themselves in. After registration and screening, the person or household will be appointed to a particular organization based on their needs and challenges.
For example, Red Cross and, eventually, K1 DIRECT, will focus on evouchers. “K1 will continue with food boxes and transition into the voucher system” Alan Schet of K1 DIRECT indicates. “Recipients can use the vouchers to make their own choices based on their own needs”. Fernando Suarez Jimenez of Red Cross explains. “Households will receive a sort of debit card and every two weeks funds will be transferred to the card”.
“We will providing hot meals.” Dino Arindell of Captain’s Rib shack and Marva Sam from COME Center explain. “Our focus lies on those who have lost their homes, do not have the ability to cook or have mobility challenges. We will provide pick up and delivery services”. Both organizations also provided hot meals in the months after hurricane Irma.
Freegan Food foundation will provide food boxes with fresh food. “For Freegan, this is a continuation of what we have been doing since 2017. With the funding, we can reach more households than before. Organizations such as Freegan Foundation and K1 DIRECT will also continue with their efforts outside of this project.
In total, 3200 households can be assisted by the project. Registrations will be possible via different channels. All participating organization have posted the registration form on their websites and social media sites. Those in need can apply online. In addition, the people can send a WhatsApp to the following number +1721 5532905. One of the volunteers or staff members of the participating organizations will call back to ask for any required information. “The partners (SMDF, Red Cross, K1 DIRECT, Freegan Foundation, COME center and The Captain’s Rib Shack) are sharing a system. Persons only have to register once.” Fanny de Swarte of Red Cross explains. “Beneficiaries will be appointed to each organization.”
Persons are encouraged to register if the following criteria are applicable to them:
- Persons are not receiving food assistance through other organizations.
- There is a significant drop in income due to COVID 19.
- The combined income of the household should not be more than minimum wage.
- Individuals registering should be 18 years and older and register for the entire household.
- Other criteria can be found on the website of all partners.
There have also been discussions with Government about the food distribution program. Red Cross, SMDF, K1 DIRECT, Freegan Foundation, COME Center and The Captain’s Rib Shack have agreed with the Ministry of VSA to collaborate as it pertains to the food distribution and to have the same amounts of assistance available per household. They have also agreed to have a referral system in place for possible other types of assistance from government such as onderstand or assistance from the SSRP, where relevant. The aim of the NGOs and government is to help as many people in need as possible under the separate programs.
Important to note is that information on beneficiaries without legal status will not be shared between the NGOs and government.
For those that have not registered yet for this project please visit: social media, and website(s) with registration forms Red Cross, K1 DIRECT, Freegan Foundation, COME center and The Captain’s Rib Shack.