KSAMC upgrades temporary shelter to provide more meals to the homeless
The Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) on Sunday officially launched the latest improvement to the soup kitchen and temporary dwelling for homeless people in the Corporate Area.
The facility on Church Street has been upgraded at a cost of $14 million and, during the Christmas holiday period, will provide two meals on four days each week to the homeless in the municipality.
The meals will be cooked at the Church Street facility as well as the Marie Atkins Night Shelter on Hanover Street in downtown Kingston and then transported to another section of the district to be distributed to the homeless.
The distribution will also take place in New Kingston, Cross Roads, Half-Way Tree and Papine.
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Desmond McKenzie stated that the initiative is a part of the government’s effort to help the indigent in society.
McKenzie listens attentively to the soup kitchen staff.
“The government has provided the funds to ensure that we can continue the programme going into the end of this financial year and we are committed to continuing the programme,” McKenzie said.
“The KSAMC has been reaching out and has been making a sincere commitment to deal with this vulnerable population of persons living on the streets. There are close to 2,000 or more Jamaicans right across the country, who are living on the streets," McKenzie, who is also the Member of Parliament for West Kingston, said.
He added: “The greater majority of homeless persons is in Kingston and St Andrew and my own constituency downtown here.”
The facility was first established in March during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic on the island. It provided meals two days each week.
The upgrade includes a refurbished kitchen, which Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams said would provide 600 meals each day initially in the first week, before being assessed and the necessary adjustments made.
An upgrade has also been made to the sleeping quarters, which the indigents can go to during the curfew hours to get off the streets. The sleeping quarters can now accommodate more than 100 individuals each night.
“We are working out the cost as we speak (for the feeding programme). We are really looking at it on an annual basis. We have just started. We are doing the first two weeks as a trial. We are doing four days each week and then, from that four days, we will develop a more elaborate programme,” Williams said.
“Basically, we are going to use the Christmas season to do this trial over the next two weeks, giving ourselves the opportunity to see where the issues are, although we would have anticipated a lot," the mayor said.
Minority leader at the KSAMC, Andrew Swaby believes the facility shows the KSAMC's commitment to addressing the needs of the less fortunate.
“We see how best a city is when it looks after the most vulnerable persons and today, I am really encouraged to be a part of this organisation that would have looked out for our most vulnerable in our society,” Swaby said.
Meanwhile, according to McKenzie, the $14million spent to upgrade the facility included renovating and painting the kitchen and putting in equipment. He said the project was on budget.
He also said that corporate entity GraceKennedy has committed to be a part of the feeding programme and he asked the administrators not to turn away anybody because “you have many persons who have a roof over their heads but find it difficult to get a meal”.