The international KFC initiative ‘Add Hope’ through which franchises of the restaurant giant in various markets across the globe donate both cash and meals to persons in need, has expanded locally to encompass more than feeding programmes. Their latest partnership was with Food For The Poor’s Angels of Hope programme, facilitated by the Restaurants of Jamaica (ROJ) team.
Approximately 1,300 KFC meals were donated to the programme, which were distributed to the wards and caregivers at 26 children’s homes across the island, shared Andrei Roper, ROJ’s brand manager.
“The moniker ‘Add Hope’ is fitting because we are truly adding hope and positivity to the lives of those who need it most and making a positive impact especially for our youth,” he told The Gleaner.
Roper added, “Giving back is a big part of our culture at ROJ; over the past four and a half decades of operations, we have been able to grow our brands through the unwavering support of our fellow Jamaicans and so it is an important part of our mandate to give back and to do our part in building our communities, investing in our country and our people, not just through job creation but through various support programmes of national and community level programmes.”
MILLIONS IN DONATION
Since the initiative launched in March 2018 in Jamaica, it has donated nearly $15 million towards several outreach programmes, such as the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information’s National School Feeding Programme, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica COVID-19 Relief Fund, and now Food For The Poor.
“We especially believe in investing in our youth and we have done so continuously over the years, through education, culture, sports, entertainment, and of course feeding programmes,” the ROJ brand manager said. “During this current COVID-19 pandemic we have seen the serious impact that it has had on those less fortunate and in particular the less fortunate children, and organisations like Food For The Poor which do such invaluable work to assist those in need and make a difference in the lives of Jamaicans – we are the ones who are more than happy to align with them as they truly impact and change lives on a day to day basis.”
Speaking of the impact of the novel coronavirus, it also meant that the customary grand Christmas treat usually held by Food For The Poor for the wards of the state had to be cancelled for 2020 so, with ROJ, the team met with caregivers from each home to hand over the KFC meal vouchers and care packages. “Christmas is a special time of year when we pull closer to our friends and families of all shapes and sizes. We wanted to spread some of that Christmas joy with our wards of the state who we know have had an extremely difficult year in light of the pandemic.” These were distributed by gospel artiste and KFC Add Hope ambassador, Kevin Downswell, alongside development and marketing manager, Marsha Burrell Rose, from the Food For The Poor team, and Angels of Hope coordinator, Nordia Williams, to name a few.
“Everyone has been extremely grateful and had nothing but kinds words for us. It has been truly humbling. During times like these, it’s important more than ever before to lend a helping hand and COVID-19 has shown us that even when faced with challenges, there are always those facing even tougher obstacles and we must do what we can to support each other wherever possible,” Roper said.
GRATEFUL FOR THE DONATION
Desmond Whitely, head of Sunbeam Boys Home, one of the recipient homes and the president of the Private Home Association, expressed gratitude for the donations which have helped to relieve some of the challenges experienced.
“The cost of care has increased exponentially, with over 40 boys running around our facility as the pandemic has caused wards of the state to be locked in since March. Normally they would go out to school or have their parents visit, but that has changed drastically and we have taken on the added expenses inclusive of becoming the place where the children have had to do school in facilities that weren’t designed as a school,” Whitely explained.
He said the government stipend is not enough and Food For The Poor, along with their partners, are “filling a necessary gap”.
“What private homes receive from the government is not full support. Food For The Poor has been so fantastic; they provide [and] facilitate enormous support, if I call them today and say I need food for the children, I can pick up a package from them tomorrow. For the Christmas period, they usually invite children across the homes to a treat, but of course, that did not happen but they made sure to deliver by packaging gifts that each of the homes could collect,” Whitely shared.
“They also gave food packages with the help of KFC to all members of staff, which was highly appreciated. It brought tears of joy because while we would normally have a lot of private groups coming in to help, [last] year it was restricted but they made sure they did everything possible to help.”
Other homes that benefitted include the Hanbury Children’s Home in Manchester and the Maxfield Park Children’s Home in Kingston.
“We are truly grateful for the partnership between Food For The Poor and KFC. We are doing a massive renovation here at Hanbury and we appreciate all the items we have received for the children and our staff. We are also in need of paint and fixtures to complete the renovations as well as toiletries, food items and clothing for the children,” shared Major Jacqueline Palmer, assistant administrator at Hanbury Children’s Home.