PHILIPSBURG–Persons who suffered “a serious financial setback” and risk not being able to feed themselves and/or their families as a result of the impact of the recent hurricanes can come into consideration for a temporary basic-necessities voucher programme launched by the Ministry of Health Labour and Social Affairs VSA.
Under the two-month pilot programme persons who qualify will receive a voucher valued at NAf. 150 to shop at certain supermarkets. A family of one or two persons can apply for one voucher and larger families can receive two. Eligible families will receive voucher(s) every two weeks depending on whether their situations have changed.
The vouchers can be redeemed at participating supermarkets Le Grande Marché, Prime Distributors, Sang’s Supermarket and Sunny Foods. Participating supermarkets are supporting the programme by providing Government with a bulk-purchase/community-support discount on the total cost of items.
The vouchers can be used to purchase basic necessities such as food, water, hygiene and sanitation products at participating retailers. Tobacco and alcohol products are excluded.
Persons can apply for the programme at the Social Services Department at the new Government Building on Pond Island from Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 12:00noon. Applicants will have to fill in intake forms with information on their financial situation demonstrating they are not able to buy food. Applicants will also have to present valid identification such as an identification card, passport or driver’s licence.
“Only applications of persons or families who suffered a significant fall in their sources of income will be considered for the programme,” it was stated in a press release.
After the applications are submitted and processed, applicants will be contacted on the decision taken.
“This programme is a natural evolution of our emergency relief programme where food, water and hygiene supplies were physically delivered to different neighbourhoods. The details and approvals for the programme have taken a bit of time to finalise, but we feel that developing proper criteria, forms, agreements with supermarkets, fraud prevention measures and evaluation processes were critical in developing a programme that is fully transparent, accountable and auditable,” VSA Minister Emil Lee said in the release.
“We believe that based on the success of this programme we will be able to attract other donors to contribute to extend the programme, as well as to other social programmes currently in the pipeline; for example, a construction voucher programme.”