Food and nutrition insecurity are just one frightening outcome of the pandemic.
An October, 2020 study of eight Caribbean countries found that 40% of people surveyed experienced some form of hunger, with 42% of those saying it was moderate to severe. The survey by the College of Health Sciences at the University of Technology included 2,257 households in eight countries across the region (Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Belize, Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda.)
Another recent study from the Caribbean Research and Policy Institute and Unicef also found that in a survey of 500 Jamaican households, 44% reported that they were experiencing food shortages, while 78% said their savings could last them four weeks or less.
Food security is a technical term referring to the availability of nutritious food, and defined by the United Nations as having “physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life.”
The World Bank reports that despite the pandemic, there is adequate supply. The risks to food security include higher prices and reduced incomes, which forces households to rely on smaller portions of less nutritious foods.
In terms of local food supply, Jamaica’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green says it is sufficient. The issue, however, is with a lack of purchasing power, especially of late as a result of the economic downturn. “Our challenges is to restart the economy to make sure people can get back purchasing power.”