PHILIPSBURG–Up to Tuesday, April 7, 3,444 of the almost 5,000 social assistance forms submitted by residents requesting aid from government as a result of the impact of the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis on households, reflect a need for assistance in procuring food.
“This is a serious need that we have been planning for and therefore you can look forward to getting assistance in one form or the other either through food boxes or food vouchers within short,” Prime Minister and Chairperson of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Silveria Jacobs said during a national address on Tuesday evening.
To date a total of 762 boxes of food and 697 bags of hygiene and sanitary material have been packed by Emergency Services Function 7 (ESF 7) and volunteers. Delivery is underway and will continue until all the items have been delivered. She said authorities look forward to receiving donations of fresh fruit and vegetables to add to the food boxes to ensure that the vulnerable get “good products” to help boost their immune system.
Once the deliveries of food packages to vulnerable persons have concluded, government will move to a voucher programme to deal with the large number of requests for assistance. This will continue until the stimulus plan goes into effect, which authorities are expecting to happen by the end of the month.
She urged persons with an acute need to register, but said registration should only be done once. Some persons registered in hard copy as well as online. “You do not need to register more than once. It all goes to same place,” she said noting that avoiding double registrations will cut down on the time for the organisation to sift out acute needs. She stressed that only persons with an acute immediate need or those with a need within a week or two should fill in the forms as authorities would like to address those with an acute need first.
In updating on food security, she said several of the supermarket and grocery stores provided their numbers and delivery status. Some of the smaller neighborhood grocery stores were only able to obtain their waivers on Tuesday afternoon and residents can expect grocery stores in their respective areas to also start deliveries soon.
In an unrelated matter, she said waivers have been granted for banks to operate to facilitate delivery payments to grocery stores and to finalise pending payrolls for persons who have not yet received month end pay. Banks will not be open to the public during this time.