Patricia Minnis Steps Up to Patron, Bahamas Feeding Network as feeding initiative takes on its biggest challenge yet
It started as a Sunday after church invitation by Bahamas Feeding Network Executive Director Philip Smith to Patricia Minnis. Come see for yourself, he suggested, see volunteers at work prepping, cooking, dishing up and distributing hot meals, thousands of them every week, packed with love, spirit and soul at a little cottage on Fox Hill Road.
Mrs. Minnis agreed and on a Sunday not long ago the wife of the Prime Minister quietly and without fanfare made her way through the crowd that gathers every week in the yard outside the modest cottage that has been transformed into a kitchen staffed by volunteers.
Mrs. Minnis was wide-eyed. “Amazing” is the way she later described it. “The effort, the comradery, the achievement, all the volunteers working in sync, even the music and singing, all the elements came together in this mission to feed the hungry.”
She watched container after container fill with food, napkins, utensils, get placed in compartments on palettes, ready for collection or delivery or for members of the nearby Fox Hill community to come and eat as they listened to sounds coming from an unrehearsed choir of voices singing along with radio.
She asked if she could pitch in. The woman some refer to as the first lady of The Bahamas rolled up her sleeves, donned gloves and began dishing out food, packing containers and watching the eyes of men, women and especially children as they came to collect their home-cooked chicken, peas ‘n rice and more. She observed as Philip Smith, a once highly successful businessman who gave it all up and has spent the last decade feeding the hungry, scooped ice cream out of vast containers and other volunteers poured juices. She saw the children make themselves at home in the little yard, playing, laughing, knowing there was hot food waiting. And her heart melted.
Within a month, Mrs. Minnis stepped up and accepted the role of patron, joining founder His Excellency Frank J Crothers, Ambassador of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and Malta, the organisation’s founder and first patron.
The role is especially critical as the 6-year-old non-profit prepares to take on its biggest challenge yet, feeding children in school. For Mrs. Minnis, a lifelong educator, the opportunity to serve was perfect and for the executive director, her patronage is more than a matter of prestige.
“From the moment that Patricia Minnis asked if she could join the volunteer line, rolled up her sleeves and went to work, I knew that in addition to being a kind and compassionate person, she would bring a positive energy that would be important as we plan our greatest challenge yet, to feed students at some schools,” said Smith. “We are delighted and honoured that Patricia Minnis, who has spent her professional life as a teacher in the government system, has accepted the invitation and stepped into the role of patron.”
Smith said an announcement about the school feeding program would be made later and the program would start in September.
Founded in 2013, the Bahamas Feeding Network has grown steadily. Today it preps, cooks and distributes more than 3500 hot meals a week through a network of more than 100 churches, non-profits and institutions. An anonymous donor covers all administrative costs allowing every dollar that is donated to be applied to the purchase of food and supplies.