By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
NEARLY 9,000 households in New Providence continue to rely on the national food assistance programme, an initiative that has cost the government $54m, according to Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis last night.
Speaking to supporters during a drive-in rally in Grand Bahama, Dr Minnis gave a breakdown of the number of families still receiving food assistance throughout the country.
He said 8,979 households in the capital were benefitting from the programme, while 5,127 were on the programme in Grand Bahama.
In Abaco, 2,006 families were on the programme, 1,576 on other Family Islands and 312 in Eleuthera.
“To date approximately $54m has been spent on food assistance across The Bahamas during this pandemic,” he told supporters. “At the height of the pandemic the feeding programme supported 57,000 households and today as part of how our economy reopened approximately 18,000 households are still being assisted.
“We are grateful for the partnership with feeding NGOs and hundreds of volunteers that have made such a massive and consistent feeding programme possible,” the prime minister also said.
In August, Public Service and National Insurance Minister Brensil Rolle said more than $500m had been spent by the government to assist ordinary Bahamians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking in the House of Assembly at the time, Mr Rolle said the money was used to fund various COVID-19 relief initiatives including the government’s food assistance programme and its unemployment benefits among other things.
“The National Insurance (Board) has spent nearly $100m as a form of income support to COVID-19 and that is separate and apart from the $180m in real money spent by this government as a form of income support for thousands of ordinary Bahamians affected by COVID-19 and their job layoffs,” Mr Rolle said back in August during debate on the resolution to extend the country’s state of emergency to November 13.
“That does not include the total spending or the additional spending that was brought about in job retention and the food programme which is near another $100m and I’m talking real money impacting real Bahamians.”