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Jul 8, 2021

Grocery Bag Becomes Food Assistance

What’s in a name you ask? Plenty apparently, so don’t call it “grocery bags” – it is now “food assistance”. The programme has a new name since it was rebranded. According to Minister Dolores Balderamos Garcia, the seventy-five to eighty dollars grocery kits are about to start rolling into homes across the country. But this time around the area representatives will have a bit more say in the distribution. But will that politicize the process? That’s what we asked the Minister today.


Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Minister of Human Development

Dolores Balderamos Garcia

“What we are trying to do, yes, since it is government money. With international money, our hands are a little more restricted because of the accountability, say for example, to the World Bank to the BCCAT program which should be wrapping up in August. Because it is government money it is a lot less than we had in the previous financial year. We are trying to allow the area reps to have a little more say but of course in terms of the accountability we will be asking them to get their poor people to sign that they have received the grocery bag. So, yes, we are trying to allow the persons on the ground who knows their communities to be able to distribute the food assistance. I was jinxing myself the other day and saying that I have to put coals on top of my head now because we don’t call it pantry nor do we call it grocery bag anymore; it is now food assistance. So, the joke is on me.”



“So, you are saying that the stringent assessment that came under the previous configuration won’t exist this time so how do you hold them accountable?”


Dolores Balderamos Garcia

“We are easing it a little; it is not that we are not having any accountability but we are easing it a little because are reps felt that the BCCAT was a little too stringent and what we also found is that the assessment process was deeply flawed. I don’t hide that because when you are doing assessment by telephone it is difficult to go and verify in each and every household. Not that we want to continue the safety net of the BOOST and BOOST PLUS – those will definitely continue. But in this one with the food assistance, we decided with cabinet’s approval to ease the restriction a little bit but of course people have to sign and we are asking area reps to make sure that the poorest of the poor can receive a little assistance.”

Andrea Polanco

“Minister, don’t you think having the area representatives have more involvement present opportunities for them to limit access to these groceries to only their political supporters?”


Dolores Balderamos Garcia

“I wouldn’t say so, Andrea. I really wouldn’t say so. Let me defend colleagues. I see us really focused on really trying to help people across the board. This is not a red or blue thing whatsoever; this is a thing of trying to help our people and I have every confidence with the check of the signatures. I have every confidence that we will use our best efforts.”


Minister Balderamos-Garcia told the press today that they have made the decision to discontinue the awarding of cash via the Belize Covid-19 Cash Transfer Program.

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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