Crisis in Haiti Escalates: FFTP Prepares for Large Scale Response, Packs Thousands of Food Kits
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (July 31, 2023) With conditions deteriorating in Haiti amid a new wave of gang violence and kidnappings, Food For The Poor (FFTP) has been able to distribute aid and is preparing to respond on a much bigger scale.
Today, FFTP is more than halfway to meeting its goal of packing 14,000 emergency food kits to help families in crisis in Haiti, where continued unrest and violence combined with soaring inflation are pushing the nation’s most vulnerable to the brink.
The kits are in addition to 102 containers of aid from FFTP that were cleared and received in Haiti in just the last month.
After a brief respite, Haiti is once again seeing an escalation of violence, kidnappings and killings. Last week, crowds from the surrounding neighborhood swarmed the area outside the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince seeking refuge from gang attacks. On Thursday, an American nurse working for another Christian humanitarian aid organization was kidnapped with her child in Haiti.
To date, the charity has packed and shipped 7,933 kits to Haiti.
The kits already are being distributed, including to families in Baie-de-Henne, Haiti, who are still recovering from severe floods in early June.
The urgency comes as nearly 5 million people are projected to be in acute hunger in Haiti – that’s nearly half the country in the crisis stage of food insecurity, meaning they face above-average levels of malnutrition.
As much as 80 to 90 percent of Port-au-Prince is controlled by gangs, according to news reports.
FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine said the charity’s team in Haiti continues to prepare for the day when it can move more freely and safely about the country to distribute aid.
“We’re watching this situation very carefully. We’re getting things done when these windows of opportunity occur,” Raine said. “But we really know that this humanitarian crisis needs to be addressed on a much grander scale. We’re trying to make sure that we’re ready for a huge distribution of relief.”
On top of hunger, cholera reappeared last October as fuel shortages hindered water treatment efforts and reduced the supply of safe drinking water, forcing many to rely on untreated water. The public health crisis only worsened after recent disasters including the flooding and a 4.9-magnitude earthquake that rocked southern Haiti just three days later.
The food kits, packed by volunteers, can feed the average family of four for a week. FFTP’s Haiti team is supplementing the food kits with additional rice meals to last for a month.
“They are really happy to receive the food,” said Maria Cassandra Brutus, FFTP-Haiti’s Director of Distribution. “It’s really difficult to buy food.”
Key to the charity’s packing initiative is the support of corporate groups and individual volunteers. Perigon, Insperity, The Keys Company, Sam’s Club, Texas Roadhouse, Blue Realty and Community Capital Management are among the businesses that have sent teams to FFTP to pack kits.
In May, FFTP’s volunteers packed 10,000 hygiene kits that were shipped to Haiti.
FFTP also is partnering with USAID and Airlink for the second time this year to deliver more emergency relief supplies to Haiti through a humanitarian air bridge to Port-au-Prince.
The latest shipment will include 18 pallets of MannaPack rice meals from partner Feed My Starving Children, two pallets of MannaPack Potato-D, a specially engineered meal to treat children and adults suffering from cholera symptoms such as diarrhea and help to replace lost nutrients, two pallets of gloves donated by partner Matthew 25: Ministries, one pallet of medical gloves and two pallets of hygiene kits from partner Brother’s Brother Foundation, and two pallets of Liquid I.V. oral rehydration powder.
Earlier this year, the same partnership delivered 107 pallets containing 3,852 cases of MannaPack rice meals in the charity’s Coconut Creek warehouse from Feed My Starving Children, and 88 cases of IV solutions plus medical gloves from St. Louis Park, Minn.-based MATTER.
FFTP continues to ship tractor-trailer loads of aid to Haiti each week, including containers of rice from partner Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as purchase goods in-country.
Haiti spiraled into chaos following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021. Violence has escalated since then, with gangs expanding across the capital and beyond, blocking access to health care facilities, forcing the closure of schools and businesses, and worsening already dire food insecurity by cutting residents of gang-controlled areas off from critical supplies.
On Saturdays, FFTP-Haiti has opened its doors to safely distribute food to families in need. During the week, the charity is providing items such rice, beans, MannaPack rice meals, water purification tablets, hygiene products and baby items to pregnant women and nursing mothers from the Nutritional Recovery Center.
In July, FFTP-Haiti continued to assist communities affected by the severe floods in early June, providing food, hygiene and personal items to 32 organizations and humanitarian partners serving about 1,700 families.
From January to July, FFTP-Haiti distributed 2,701 food kits to the Nutritional Recovery Center and 4,260 food kits at the charity’s Port-au-Prince office. The charity also distributed 84 cases of IV fluids and 140 pallets of MannaPack rice meals to nine hospitals and health centers, benefitting 275 patients and 4,698 families.
From April through July, FFTP-Haiti has provided special assistance to 400 of the most vulnerable parishes of the 10 Catholic dioceses of Haiti by distributing 15,000 bags of rice.
Raine said the charity’s latest effort wouldn’t be possible without the support of generous donors and volunteers.
“The food and hygiene kits packed by our incredible volunteers are a blessing to families in Haiti,” Raine said. “Our volunteers continue to be an amazing force of support for us.”
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry children and families living in poverty primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for vulnerable children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.