Centro PASO Covid-19 Response
Food Shortages & Economic Insecurity
At the beginning of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the whole world into quarantine. The island of Puerto Rico, like many other islands, was hit especially hard by the coronavirus outbreak, with 27,713 cases and 346 deaths. The town of Aibonito alone has been the source of 103 COVID-19 cases.
Through this hardship, Centro PASO has found that their biggest hindrance is their dependency on the government and other organizations for resources and materials. Puerto Rico as a whole has limited food supply in comparison to larger, continental nations. As the island’s shipments are first processed through the U.S. mainland, shipping delays in the states have left the people of Puerto Rico with no other option but to endure even lengthier waiting periods for food and other supplies.
Centro PASO’s director, Margarita Centeno, has shared some insight as to how the organization has adapted to the sudden changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In PR there are several companies that have received federal funds for the distribution of food (in boxes) of fresh products such as vegetables, milk, eggs, meats, fruits, and other nutritious foods. This initiative also aims to help farmers. The distribution of these boxes of food is done in different ways, including through non-profit organizations that have already identified the people most in need. We received 650 boxes of Caribbean Products which were then distributed to the communities. We have also had collaborative agreements with Casa Pensamiento who presented a proposal to another company that granted us around 500 additional boxes, as well as others we received from the Aibonito Lions Club. We have distributed non-perishable raw foods mainly to those families who were not working because of the measures imposed by the government due to COVID-19.”