Haitians Get Food ‘Surge’

By Dialogo
March 09, 2010

Aid groups in Haiti's shattered capital Port-au-Prince began handing out heavy bags of rice to thousands of post-quake homeless on the first day of a food "surge" designed to feed 1.9 million people for a month. The operation, organized by the World Food Program (WFP), expands on emergency rations already given away in the wake of the January 12 earthquake that killed more than 220,000 people. It was to continue to the end of the month. Each family was being given rations that also included oil, salt and flour in exchange for coupons distributed days ahead of the food hand-outs, while UN peacekeepers stood guard to make sure there was no jostling or rush. At the site of one distribution point, WFP spokeswoman Silke Buhr told AFP that the "surge" of free food did not threaten efforts to try to re-establish markets selling groceries. "The fact is that a lot of these people who are receiving the food assistance here today would not be able to buy the products in the market at market prices," which have in many cases tripled since the quake, she said. She also said the rations were mainly going to women because "food distributed into the hands of women does tend to go to those who need it most." One of the few men carrying off his allotted sack of rice, Joseph Adelphi, 26, said his family was deeply grateful for the aid. "Sometimes I spend all my money just to have something to eat with my mother, with all the family, because I'm the one who protects the family," he said.