Digital Food Vouchers help to feed thousands amid the COVID-19 pandemic
The Bahamas reported its first COVID-19 case in March 2020. The virus’s rapid spread has resulted in businesses closing, people jobless, homeless, and without food. And, nearly a year later, the need for assistance remains at unprecedented levels.
Soon after the pandemic hit, non-profit organizations like Hands for Hunger sprang into action by partnering with Kanoo, a digital payments platform, to implement a digital food voucher program. Every week, eligible persons received digital gift cards ranging from $50 to 400 in value redeemable at Super Value/ Quality Super Markets. H4H purchased the digital gift cards from Super Value and issued them to clients through our platform.
Hands for Hunger’s Executive Director Keisha Ellis revealed how this food voucher program is critical as the country continues to fight against this global health crisis. Immediately, she said, the team started to receive an overwhelming number of requests for food assistance.
“With the emergency orders and safety protocols coming into effect, many Bahamians were laid off substantially, losing their financial ability to procure food items. This initiative is one way that Hands for Hunger believe it can help address the increased need,” Ellis explained.
“We are trying to reach as many people as possible, but that will depend on funding. However, we do hope to provide regular support to each family in the program. We think it is important for the help to be consistent.”
Kanoo also partnered with the Department of Social Services, the Grand Bahama Port Authority, and the Bahamas Red Cross Society to provide similar assistance for those participating in their programs.
In seconds, we issue digital food vouchers on behalf of the Department of Social Services through our app. Officials have called it a “game-changer” because they can receive it wherever they are and buy the items they want.
In addition to COVID-19, islands like Grand Bahama were still experiencing the long-last effects of Hurricane Dorian. As a result, the GBPA launched a digital food voucher program in the Kanoo Pays app to support the Grand Bahama Food Distribution Task Force’s efforts to provide food for the most vulnerable families on Grand Bahama.
The GBPA, a member of the Food Distribution Task Force’s steering committee, donated thousands to be used to enable the program’s recipients to shop at local grocery stores, Express Foodmart, and Sawyer’s Fresh Market.
Kanoo’s Public Relations & Communications Manager Scieska Adderley, says these partnerships are meaningful, as it comes at a time of considerable uncertainty, making others’ needs even more significant.
“Life’s hard right now. People are without jobs, homes, and food due to COVID-19. So, we are pleased to assist in feeding the most vulnerable among us during these trying times. Our digital payments platform allows them to do that seamlessly, from their smartphone,” she explains.
To date, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been invested and assisted thousands of families. Opting to take the digital route has allowed these organizations to expand their reach and help more people.
“Kanoo’s digital platform gives our food voucher program a substantially bigger reach while still maintaining physical distancing. The digital vouchers allow us to assist instantly without any need to leave home,” Ellis shared.
She added that: “We view Kanoo as a long-term partner in the fight to ensure that no one in The Bahamas goes hungry. Hopefully, this partnership will strengthen, with the food voucher program becoming one of our major planks of assistance to those in need.”