Bahamas Feeding Network

It’s hard to imagine a week of Bahamian breakfasts without a helping of grits on the table so when word of a grits shortage began making the rounds in Nassau, the Light Industries Development Council decided to take things into their own hands – with a little help from those whose hands have at least one green thumb. They went in search of hands that could grow and grind the corn somewhere in the Bahamas.

“Long Island was our first stop,” said Council Vice President Karla Wells-Lisgaris, “But they only had enough grits there for island consumption.”

It wasn’t a total loss. Farmers there advised them to contact a Ms. Emma Hepburn in Cat Island.

“Two weeks later, we had our grits, lima beans and pigeon peas, all harvested, processed and packaged and shipped by mailboat to Nassau,” said Lisgaris.

“We chose to donate the items to the Bahamas Feeding Network (BFN) given its wide reach and great work.”

BFN Executive Director Philip Smith called the gift of grits, beans and peas “one the recipients will always remember because it was home-grown with love.”

“We believe it’s important to show that these items not only benefit those who will receive from BFN, but also the local producer,” said Wells-Lisgaris. “It brings to mind the proverb ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for his life time.’”

The Feeding Network has distributed more than 10,000 parcels of food – enough for 560,000 meals — since the COVID-19 pandemic fueled even higher rates of hunger and the pain it brings. In addition to $405,000 in food parcels, BFN has distributed $43,000 in food coupons throughout the islands.

Before social distancing measures forced it to change its model, the feeding network had prepped, cooked, packaged and distributed more than a million meals since its founding in 2013. BFN volunteers were cooking 6,000 hot meals a week when it had to turn off the grills, stoves and songs to turn its attention to packages of groceries.