By RIEL MAJOR
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Bahamas Feeding Network (BFN) are preparing and distributing over 13,000 meals a week to help those affected by Hurricane Dorian. Phillip Smith, BFN executive director, told reporters on the sidelines of a Royal Caribbean tour yesterday that usually the BFN would cook and distribute about 5,500 hot meals a week.
“We cook on Sunday and Thursday; we prep on Wednesday and Saturday. Normally we are cooking 5,500 meals per week but that has gone up slightly because of the number of persons who have moved to Nassau so now that number has gone to 6,500 per week,” Mr Smith said.
He said that number did not include an extra 7,200 meals being cooked for evacuees, so he said “we are over 13,000 meals per week right now in Nassau”.
He added: “Sunday, for example, we do about almost 4,000 meals so we prep on Saturday. They would come about 4am and they are cleaning chicken…over 40 cases of chicken, that goes until 3pm and a number of them come back at 10pm to begin the cooking. A lot of them (the volunteers) are on their feet from 10pm straight through until 3pm the following day.”
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line gave the volunteers from the Bahamas Feeding Network a tour of the Mariner of the Seas yesterday along with lunch and a fun-filled day on board the ship.
This was a reward for the volunteers who participated in preparing meals for storm evacuees and the less fortunate.
Mr Smith said there were about 77 volunteers on board the ship yesterday.
“They are just absolutely incredible. The amount of work they do, and it all comes from the heart. There’s no pay. It’s just absolutely amazing that people can be so motivated without money. Whenever we have the opportunity to show our appreciation for that enthusiasm and volunteerism, we take that opportunity to show that,” he said.
“We wanted to show them appreciation, so they know that they are appreciated. We thank a whole lot of them, and they are truly my family. We are truly a family and I love them. We do everything together and we love one another.”
He added: “(The president of Royal Caribbean) purchased all the food that we cooked for the entire year which was amazing. Just recently they sent us a 40ft container of different meat, so we don’t have to buy meat for the rest of the year. “
Mariner of the Seas Captain Aris Medina said Royal Caribbean had a long-standing history of friendship and partnership with The Bahamas.
He said: “We are very loyal to our guests, crew and all the amazing places that we visit. For us, it was very important to immediately activate ourselves and our team to provide with assisting which was so needed. We are very proud of that. We could not do it on our own obviously with the Bahamas Feeding Network providing us with volunteers to help in delivering thousands of hot meals.”