Written by: Holly Baker, American Red Cross delegate in The Bahamas
“When I see her every day, I know things will be alright,” said Vernetta Saunders.
For Vernetta, the lunchtime visits from Bahamas Red Cross volunteer Maxine Strachan has become a daily highlight. Six days a week, Maxine delivers hot meals to residents of Nassau through the Bahamas Red Cross home meal delivery program. The volunteer consistently brings food and a smile to the people who’ve come to rely on her for a daily meal. Vernetta says it’s about more than food: Maxine brings joy and comfort to her and an opportunity to share a laugh.
“They start to become like family,” Maxine said of the people she delivers to.
Vernetta has been receiving meals from the Red Cross since before the global pandemic thrust even more residents of The Bahamas into an uncertain future. The COVID-19 outbreak and the dangers of grocery shopping in crowded areas caused some residents already affected by Hurricane Dorian to become even more vulnerable to hunger.
People eligible to be a part of the home meal delivery program are elderly, disabled or those in single-parent households. The pandemic has put even more people into the ‘vulnerable’ category since elderly and those who are at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus are often discouraged from going out even for essential tasks.
The American Red Cross has supported the Bahamas Red Cross by funding extensive expansion of the program to serve hundreds of additional people in Nassau and on Grand Bahama, another large island in The Bahamas. The American Red Cross has provided additional supplies, funding for meal ingredients, and vehicles with drivers to fulfill increased needs on the islands during this unprecedented public health crisis.
Marlon Mckzie, who receives food delivery from the Bahamas Red Cross, says he feels like it’s one less meal he has to worry about while taking care of his family at home, and he’s found a new friend in the Bahamas Red Cross volunteer who delivers his family’s meals each day, Khris Kemp.
“It's more than just bringing a meal to someone, we're bringing comfort. I get to interact with them and talk even for just a few minutes and I know we're filling them with good food and filling them with hope,” said Kemp.
Volunteers with the Bahamas Red Cross also put together food parcel packages filled with non-perishable food items, cooking supplies and more to distribute to families needing extra help or who prefer to cook their own meals. These packages are delivered around Nassau and shipped to other islands.
The American Red Cross is continuing to work with the Bahamas Red Cross to expand the home meal delivery program even further onto the island of Abaco to continue helping people in need.
American Red Cross in the Bahamas
The American Red Cross has been helping in The Bahamas since Hurricane Dorian hit last September, providing emergency shelter items, food, clean water and millions of dollars in cash and rental assistance to families. It is because of the generosity of the American people that the Red Cross is able to provide continued support to families. In the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Red Cross continues to keep safety the main priority and is adapting our programs and efforts to follow all health guidelines while still delivering our mission. For more information on Hurricane Dorian recovery, visit www.redcross.org/dorian.