Covid19 has impacted the world. However, Caye Caulker, Belize has been hit harder than most. On this tiny island with approximately 2000 inhabitants, employment is primarily tourism driven. The charming streets are lined with tour shops for scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing and sailing. The restaurants are small and mostly serve tourists.
With no tourists here to enjoy this tropical paradise, our unemployment is in the 95% range. And unfortunately, we do not expect things to return to normal any time soon. Some people were already living day by day. This huge surge in unemployment has resulted in many being unable to provide even the basics for their families. Most importantly, food!
What happens now?
Fortunately, it doesn’t end there and good hearts triumph! Difficult times can bring out the best in people. Right after the first travel restrictions were put in place and the last tourists were finishing their vacations on our little island, Peggy Provost, the owner of Bondi Bar said "Soon people won’t be able to eat. I am going to start a Soup Kitchen."
The word spread, donations started to roll in, and people offered to volunteer! Soon other restaurants and businesses stepped up to help. "Use my pizza oven to bake bread," Michele Berthiaume from Southside Pizza said. "I would like to cook for one day a week," was Mari Chan’s response, owner of Food Republic. It kept going: "My kitchen and staff are available on Thursday," Miriam Marin from Happy Lobster told us. "Our café at LICA primary school can be used too," Celi August said.
The Chinese community is contributing as well. Henry from Amigo’s Restaurant (and supermarket) made a very generous offer to provide all the food ingredients, his kitchen, as well as his time to serve meals on Sundays! Alan Chan from ZZ store & Auntie have also teamed up to provide meals for a day.
Others decided to donate in the form of food. Caye Caulker Village Council gifted a number of beautiful food supplies, and Tapper’s Dive Bar sent products on the barge, an anonymous donor from San Pedro sent us 300 pounds of rice ... Lexy Larsen is baking cookies weekly.
We cannot possibly mention all who are involved here on this page, and surely, we have forgotten a few. You get the picture - EVERYONE IS HELPING. It is heartwarming to see the response of our amazing community. It literally takes a village to feed a village!
Unfortunately, the need is overwhelming and WE NEED YOUR HELP. PLEASE DONATE.
Why this GoFundMe?
All the generous donations we've received so far, both financial and In-Kind, are helping us serve over 2000 meals a week. But we're NOT there yet! As time goes by and savings are running out, more people are in need and the numbers keep growing. Also, tourism won't return any time soon, so we need to continue this program for many months to come.
We cannot let people go hungry, we need your support.
Who we are
We are a community of volunteers. We are local restaurants that are giving back to our community through donations from every walk of life. 100% of all donations (minus GoFundMe fees and transaction costs) go to support our mission.
Here are the restaurants that have been providing meals so far with more joining:
Bondi Bar and Bistro
Mr. Alan Chan
Barrier Reef Sports Bar
Belize Diving Services
We’ve received food donations from:
Caye Caulker Village Council
Individuals & Business donors (who we thank daily on our Facebookpage )
Our volunteers are:
Both Belizeans and expats. Our volunteers are responsible and will undertake strict hygienic and social distancing measures. A steering committee has been created to provide guidance. Our motto: It takes a village to feed a village!
Our goal & plan of action
We plan on providing a simple but nutritious hot meal to the less fortunate people of Caye Caulker, 6 days a week for at least the next 3 months. Unfortunately, the reality of tourism returning to normal levels is a long way. So, we are hoping on extending this service with your help!
We set a maximum cost of 2.50 BZD (1.25 USD) per meal, including all costs, food, utilities, gas, barge and delivery fees, non-food supplies, etc.
Currently, we are serving over 300 people per day! This number will soon go up to
350. To feed 350 people 6 days a week for 3 months (13 weeks), at a maximum cost of 1.25 USD per meal, we need to raise 34,125 USD. Considering transaction costs and fees, we set our goal amount to 35,000 USD.
All meals will be prepared and delivered by volunteers. The Caye Caulker Police Station has also generously offered their assistance in the delivery of the meals. If we raise more than our goal, we can feed more people and prolong our program.
Together we can do this!
--UPDATE May 8th --
On Wednesday May 6th we reached our goal! We're happy to know that this allows us to provide meals for those in need for at least three months.
We also know the people of Caye Caulker are strong, resilient and innovative, and we trust that they will find their way. But at this moment, right after the big shock of suddenly losing all jobs in tourism, the need is still very high. We’ve seen that for many one meal a day is not enough, and so we have decided to include another item with their meal. This extra item can be eaten the next morning for breakfast or later in the day. It can be a piece of bread with a boiled egg, a Johnny cake with a banana, a meat pie with an orange, etc.
We will do our best to source these items locally in order to help stimulate the economy on the island. Typical Belizean items like Johnny cakes, meat pies and Creole buns are made by many talented bakers here on the Caye. We’d love to support them by including their products in our program!
But in order to do this we need to raise our goal. We’re allowing 1 Belize Dollar ( 0.5 USD ) for the extra item(s). As a result, our per person per day cost now rises to 3.50 BZD (1.75 USD). To feed 350 people a day, six days a week until mid-August, we need $ 53,500. Considering transaction costs and fees, we’re setting our new goal amount to $ 55,000 USD.
This GoFundMe campaign is organized by John and Susan Newhouse, with lots of assistance from the volunteers. GoFundMe does not support the transfer of funds directly to Belize. Therefore, all donations will be sent to a United States bank account (solely for Caye Caulker Soup Kitchen) and are then transferred to an account on Caye Caulker (solely for Caye Caulker Soup Kitchen). These funds will be managed by Liberty Veldstra as a member of the steering committee and in charge of all finances. John Newhouse will also have oversight as a member of the steering committee.
We will post weekly updates about the amount of meals provided and amount of donations received on our Facebook Page. We are keeping a record of all donations, receipts, spending and transactions. These records can be accessed upon request.
All funds (minus GoFundMe fees and transaction costs) will go to providing meals. We will not pay any salaries from these funds.
Other initiatives on the island
Wendy Auxillou took the initiative to start a food pantry at the community center, the Caye Caulker Village Council is handing out food and water, Jessica & Lexee Marin setup a baby pantry to provide items such as diapers for mothers in need, local fishermen have been donating fish, etc.
We are thrilled and applaud all these initiatives, because the need is too high to be handled by one program alone!
- Lani Skyles
- Crystal Jones
- gertraud novelo
- Kelli Pelc