Churches, FBOs to get $30M from Govt to fund food donations to needy

Churches, FBOs to get $30M from Govt to fund food donations to needy

Photo courtesy Ministry of Social Development and Family Services. From left to right, Petal Dawn Hinkson of the Cooperative Trustees of the Anglican Church; Minister Camille Robinson-Regis

Beginning Friday, May 1, Faith-Based Organisations (FBO) in Trinidad and Tobago have begun to receive funding from the government to assist with providing food to vulnerable individuals and families across the country.

During a press conference hosted on May 4, 2020, Minister of Social Development and Family Services Camille Robinson-Regis indicated that several religious bodies have been and will continue to receive cheques to distribute among their membership for the provision of emergency food support.

This new measure is expected to provide food for the needy over the next three months and will cost taxpayers the sum of $10 million per month. Both nationals and non-nationals including Venezuelans will benefit from this measure, as the Government attempts to ensure that no one is left behind.

According to the Minister, distribution will be done in tranches and each FBO representative will be required to sign an agreement upon collection of the cheques. The first tranche made to 20 religious bodies amounts to $7,970,297.

Robinson-Regis said: “Cognizant that emergency humanitarian efforts are now required to provide food and other critical supplies to the populace, the Government, through the Ecclesiastical Division of the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services, introduced this new initiative. The major aim of the initiative is to assist vulnerable individuals and families who are in dire need of food during these challenging times and may not be eligible for the Social Assistance Grants or may have not yet received their payments”.

The Office of the Prime Minister will administer the distribution of cheques to the umbrella bodies of the FBOs.  Following this, each FBO will be required to submit a detailed report inclusive of bills and receipts depicting how the money is spent across their satellite organisations, outlining the type and quantity of items purchased. The grants must only be used to purchase goods to prepare hampers, meals and food support for those adversely affected by the pandemic. Once this condition is met, a second tranche will be distributed accordingly.

The Minister said, “This will ensure transparency and accountability”.

Among some of the FBOs to receive funding are:

  • The T&T Methodist Trust Limited
  • Anjuman Sunnat ul Jammaat Association of Trinidad and Tobago
  • The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Port of Spain
  • Masjid al Tawbah Muslim Community of Trinidad and Tobago
  • Trinidad Muslim League
  • Sanathan Dharma Maha Sabha of T&T Inc.
  • West Indian United Spiritual Baptist Sacred Order Inc.
  • Shri Siddhi Vinnayak Org. Inc.
  • SWAHA Inc.
  • National Evangelical Spiritual Baptist Faith
  • Incorporated Trustees of the Anglican Church of T&T
  • The Presbyterian Church of Trinidad and Tobago
  • The National Council of Orisha Elders of T&T
  • The Southern Caribbean Conference of Seventh Day Adventist
  • Baptist Union of Trinidad and Tobago
  • Pentecostal Assemblies of Trinidad and Tobago
  • The Trinidad and Tobago Evangelical Council
  • The Baptist Union of Trinidad and Tobago
  • The Ethiopian Orthodox Church
  • All Mansions of Rastafarian

According to Robinson-Regis, the OPM will identify other umbrella groups to ensure that all FBOs are provided with funding to participate in this effort.

Furthermore, she disclosed that the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government will also receive financial support for distribution at the local level to the tune of $10 million over the next three-month period.  Both initiatives will cost taxpayers a combined total of $60 million.

Upon receiving the grant on behalf of the National Council of Orisha Elders of T&T, Neil Ryan Rawlins stated: “We are very happy for this assistance and grateful to the Government.  We know it will help tremendously as we face this mega-crisis.  As you would imagine, the needs of the poor have increased and we are happy to be able to provide hampers and food support baskets to help persons along the way for the next three months, especially those who would have to start over.”

For more information on this social support measure, FBOs may contact the OPM at 622-1625.