Food For the Poor Wins Martin Luther King Award


Food for the Poor, one of Jamaica’s leading charity organisations, has been named winner of the 2007 Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award.
The award will be presented at the Jamaican-America Friendship Award Association’s Banquet at the Jamaica Pegasus in Kingston on Saturday, April 28, under the patronage of the Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Professor Kenneth Hall and the United States Ambassador, Brenda LaGrange Johnson.
This prestigious award is presented annually to distinguished Jamaican or American persons or organisations considered to have lived and worked in the spirit of the late American civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr. Past Jamaican recipients include Prime Ministers Michael Manley and Edward Seaga; businessmen Abe Issa and Carlton Alexander; Father Richard Holung and Lady Bustamante. Last year the award went to Douglas Orane, Chairman of GraceKennedy and Sir William Morris, the Jamaican who has been named to the House of Lords in England.
Food for the Poor, founded by Jamaican businessman, Ferdinand Mahfood in 1983, is an inter-denominational relief and development organisation working in 16 countries in the Caribbean and Central America to assist the poorest of the poor. Since its inception, Food for the Poor has continuously supplied Jamaica’s basic, primary, secondary and tertiary schools with desks, chairs, books, pens, science equipment, computers, sports equipment and office equipment. It has supported several children by providing them with school fees, uniforms and other items as they indicate the need. More than $132 million worth of school furniture was brought into the island last year. In addition, Food for the Poor supports school feeding programmes with food items such as milk, textured soy, protein and rice and flour. As a result, schools report increased attendance, better performance and greater attention span.
Food for the Poor also provides food on a regular basis to homes for children and the indigent. It also serves hundreds of church outreach programmes. In 2005, the organization brought 305 food containers into the island valued at over US$4 million. More than 100,000 farmers, registered under the Rural Economic Agricultural Programme (REAP), also received support.
The entity builds an average of 250 housing units every month, providing families with shelter, protection and a place from which to expand. In the field of health, it provides medical and pharmaceutical items, including beds, wheelchairs, surgical equipment, ambulances and other items for clinics, hospitals, infirmaries, and nursing homes. Some $3 million is provided annually for the Golden Age Home to support the needs of two clusters. In 2004, Food for the Poor opened Our Lady of the Poor Clinic on the grounds of the St. Joseph’s Hospital to provide free health care to 35 patients on a daily basis.
Skills training is another area in which Food for the Poor helps, by providing sewing machines, computers and other equipment.

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