Snake – The consumer products and fresh food distribution company Caribbean Produce Exchange, Inc. (CPE) responded to the urgent call of community leaders of the Women of Islands entity, in the face of the food crisis that is being experienced in the island municipality of Culebra in the middle Christmas time. The company transported a container with 600 family boxes combined with fresh food to help alleviate food insecurity in various communities, senior centers and among first responders. Culebra is one of the municipalities where the incidence of COVID -19, the rate of positivity and the contagion of citizens has increased consistently in the past weeks due to multiple outbreaks.
“We received an emergency call on Monday from the Women of Islands entity asking for support to address the food crisis in Culebra. They explained to us that there are hundreds of citizens, including children and older adults who do not have the economic resources or other alternatives to buy food, with the aggravation of the pandemic that is impacting the communities. We immediately took on the task of packing boxes and preparing the logistics to arrive in 48 hours, bring a donation of food boxes and distribute it to everyone who needs it “, explained Mr. Ángel R. Santiago, president and CEO of CPE.
The distribution of boxes was concentrated in the Ecological School where hundreds of residents collected their combined boxes of fresh food, as well as in centers for the elderly, the Fire Station and the community kitchen of the SEVA center (Headquarters of Living Experiences of Learning) that provides prepared meals to distribute to the sick, bedridden and other citizens in need of food.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the main triggers in Puerto Rico has been food insecurity and chronic hunger created by the lack of economic resources, the closure of multiple commercial sectors and school canteens, as well as unemployment massive population. According to studies conducted by the Hunter College Food Policy Center in New York City on this topic, living in an environment where chronic hunger and food insecurity prevail impacts the emotional well-being and mental health of children and older adults living in or low levels of poverty and vulnerability. Hunger and its stressors also affect the academic achievement and health of children as well as factors of economic stagnation that impede the adequate progress of individuals. (https://estadisticas.pr/en/blog/pobreza_aprovechamiento_academico)
The number of this population on the island has been estimated by the Institute for Youth Development at 58.3%. In the municipality islands of Culebra and Vieques, the impact is even greater because they depend on maritime transportation and have basic problems in the provision of medical services, lack of basic infrastructure and a high percentage of unemployment that exacerbates the socioeconomic problems of resident families. (www.juventudpr.org)
“Mujeres de Islas would like to thank Caribbean Produce Exchange and its president, Angel Santiago, for the contribution and supportive solidarity so that fresh food arrives for all our Culebran families at Christmas time. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we have had the support of various non-profit organizations, such as the Hispanic Federation and the Colibrí Foundation. We are also grateful to other private sector companies that have helped us in the face of the economic challenges of our communities, ”said Dulce Del Río Pineda, spokesperson for the entity.
For this important humanitarian initiative, CPE had the support of Vieques Air Link and its president Carlos Rodríguez to transfer resources and achieve expeditious and short-term coordination in response to the citizen claim of Culebra.
“Food insecurity has broad consequences on the general development of Puerto Rico today, as well as on the development of future generations. Addressing hunger and the aggravations that it brings affects the country in various ways and is a primary responsibility. After the 2020 experiences with earthquakes and the ravages of the sustained pandemic, it was a priority to heed this call from our people at the height of Christmas. We thank Vieques Air Link, our employees and all the volunteers for their solidarity and commitment to make this initiative viable in such a short time, ”Santiago concluded.