photo: Kim Hendriksen

WILLEMSTAD – “The Food Bank on Curaçao still receives about 250 new requests for food packages per day”, says Sheryl Losiabaar, the spokesperson for the Food Bank. This means that the amount of new requests has gone down a bit. At the beginning of the crisis the Voedselbank would receive about 500 new requests per day.

“Some people have informed us that they have found a job and that they no longer require the food package”, says Losiabaar. “That’s good news but people are still losing their jobs on a daily basis, which means that new requests keep coming in.”

The total amount of food packages which the Food Bank has distributed has risen to 20.000 during the past few weeks. At the end of April the total amounted to 8.000. Each package sustains 3 individuals on average. This means that a total of 60.000 people have received a food package. The packages consist mostly of non-perishable goods.

Merchants donate food
Since this week, thanks to an initiative set up by merchants from the Netherlands and Curaçao, people will also get fresh produce such as lettuce, cabbages, carrots, and potatoes. “In collaboration with merchants in the Netherlands, we were able to ship 120.000 kilograms of fresh produce to Curaçao”, says Paddy Roomer of Roomer Adviesbureau, who is one of the people who helped set up the fundraiser.

Thanks to Roomer’s Curaçaoan wife, he’s built up a strong bond with the island. The crisis brought on by the corona crisis breaks his heart, which is why he decided to set up the fundraiser.

Curaçaoan athletes also help
Roomer, who is well-known in the baseball sector on Curaçao decided to use his network and asked famous Curaçaoan athletes to record video messages to help collect funds to donate to the Food Bank. Athletes such as Churandy Martina, Leroy Fer, and Wladimir ‘Coco’ Balentien all answered the call. But famous athletes on Curaçao also recorded messages.

“I try to help where I can. With collecting donations but I also help pack up the bags every week”, says Hensley Meulens, coach for the New York Mets. He can be found at the Food Bank every week together with professional tennis player Jean-Julien Rojer, where they help out with whatever they can.

“There are a lot of people in need at the moment. Hopefully the number of individuals who need a food package will decrease quickly, because people shouldn’t become dependent on it. There comes a time when they have to start generating their own income and purchasing their own food”, Meulens says.

A report by Kim Hendriksen

The project is a collaborative effort between different companies and individuals. “From retailers to companies who provided shipping containers, but also the minister of Finance Kenneth Gijsbertha, all helped to make this project possible”, says Roomer. During the coming weeks three more shipping containers will arrive on the island. Whether the project will continue after that still remains to be seen.