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Apr 20, 2020

Policing and the Pantry Programme During the S.O.E.

On Friday, police officers shut down pantry programmes across Belize City. It has been reported that cops were telling pantry recipients to go home and that didn’t go over well with citizens who had been waiting in lines for hours to get their grocery items.  The Minister of Human Development, Anthony “Boots” Martinez was not happy about the closure of the pantry locations and said that the police had no authority and were breaking the law when they asked the pantry programmes to shutter down.  The pantries were reopened shortly after.  Today, Commissioner of Police Chester Williams told the press that there are no issues between his department and the Ministry of Human Development, but that Minister Martinez was wrong. Here’s how he explains it.


Chester Williams

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police

“The police, we do understand the need for the pantry programme but indeed the Minister was wrong to say that the police couldn’t have closed down the pantry programme because the legislation or the SI didn’t make provisions for it. Or if it does, it would come under section nine sub-section D sub-section six which  speaks to domestic delivery of goods because the pantry program is a program set up where goods is being delivered to needy persons. That, by virtue of the regulation, can operate from eight to seven p.m, but the only thing is that it speaks to delivery which means that those involved would deliver the pantry to the homes of people. But as I have said before we do understand that some of these organizations that are out there trying to help people who are in need do not have the means to deliver. So, we have to work with them because we cannot police in a way that we exclude people who are in dire need of food items from receiving what they could receive to sustain themselves while being at home. It is in that spirit that we have said to the minister and his ministry that we are going to work together to ensure that the pantry is issued. The only thing we ask for is that there be a system in place to ensure that social distancing is maintained because we are dealing with a pandemic.    So, what we have been doing is that we post police officers at the different pantry locations to assist organizers in ensuring that social distancing is maintained.”


To make things easier for those food pantry recipients, the Ministry of Human Development has a new schedule that is organized by last name and is designed to reduce lines and comply with social distancing regulations. You can see the full schedule for all the pantry stores on our Facebook page. Note that this applies only to food pantry recipients who are required to present their pantry cards when collecting their groceries.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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