SIMPSON BAY - The Red Cross is launching a food voucher program that will benefit 3250 families across nine regions in St. Maarten. Working with community councils to identify those most in need, eligible families will receive four vouchers worth a total of 600 guilders ($336 USD) over two months (November and December).
“People are able to recover faster from disaster when they are empowered to make decisions for themselves and their families,” says Pam Riley, who heads up the hurricane response for the Netherlands Red Cross. “Instead of distributing similar packages to families in need, these vouchers will allow people to decide for themselves their most critical needs.”
Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm, landed a direct hit on Sint Maarten in early September, affecting, damaging or destroying more than 90 percent of buildings, leaving many families homeless. In the two months following, as water and power have been brought back online, the Red Cross St. Maarten has distributed emergency food and water supplies, as well as tarpaulins to thousands of people affected by the storm.
The food vouchers are a continuation of that support. As many people have been unable to return to work since Hurricane Irma “These vouchers will help ease the stress and worry many parents have of how they are going to feed their children, and instead allow them to focus on rebuilding,” says Ms. Riley.
The Red Cross food voucher program meets the same criteria as the government food voucher program, which is working with the government to avoid duplication of services.
The vouchers will be distributed over a period of four weeks across the nine identified regions of Cay Bay, Cay Hill, Cole Bay, Dutch Quarter, Fort Willem, Middle Region, Over the Bank, St. Peters, and Sucker Garden. They can be redeemed at four supermarkets: Le Grand Marche, Prime Distributors, Sangs, and Sunny Foods, and can be used to purchase any items except for tobacco and alcohol. Supermarkets will not give any refund or cash back. The amount spent over the value of the voucher needs to be covered by the beneficiary.