The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadine will distribute “Love Boxes” of agricultural produce to about 3,000 persons every two weeks.
The food is expected to help persons who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s a fantastic programme. We’re getting the 40lb banana boxes, traditional boxes, it’s all within the 10 principles which I had outlined in the Good Neighbour Partnership,” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said on NBC radio on Wednesday.
“Farmers have produce, we buy the produce, some people want food and we give them,” he said.
He said that the ministry will announce the location of the distribution centres “where people will come, individuals can go and buy from the farmers, too, but the government is buying from the farmers and we are proving these Love Boxes of food, 3,000 of them to persons who are deserving.”
Gonsalves said that the Ministry of Social Development is involved in identifying persons.
“… but very much so the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs through the churches and through the NGOs. The government is not distributing these,” Gonsalves said, adding that distribution will be rationalised.
“So we don’t have control over who gets. It’s not a red box; it’s a love box, so I just want to make that point for those who always look for something other than what it is.”
Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party uses red in its paraphernalia and election campaign and “Labour Love” was the party’s slogan in the 2015 general elections.
“Love is love. It’s an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempest and is never shaken. That is what love is,” said Gonsalves, quoting Shakespeare.
“It doesn’t matter if Soufriere erupt, storm come, COVID comes, you love, you love. It’s an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempest and is never shaken and this love that we have for the people is never shaken and manifested in the love box,” he said.
The prime minister said the programme has caught the imagination of people “because it’s something which reflects the times and where we are trying to build social solidarity so that as we come out of COVID and the way we have been handling COVID with such calm and with such patience, dealing with it with the certainty that sun brightens stone and all the river burns and we are with the people as one and we know that some of our people are suffering as a consequence of COVID.
“We didn’t bring it upon ourselves, it came to us from outside but we are satisfied that whatever our anguish and our pain, we know that the Lord’s compassion failed not and there is an abundance of mercy which is renewed daily and great is his faithfulness. And this is the way in which we are operating and addressing this question,” Gonsalves said.