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Fiji Time: 2:13 PM on Monday 22 September

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Food bank to open

Siteri Sauvakacolo
Sunday, March 30, 2014

THE introduction of the Food Bank initiative may help reduce the number of beggars on the country's streets, says a senior government official.

The new initiative launched on Friday is a co-ordinated and structured approach to address food poverty, targeted mainly at poor families and communities in the country.

In an interview, Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation permanent secretary Dr Joe Koroivueta confirmed that while the initiative might help poor people in some manner, it should be noted that the reasons for begging differ.

Dr Koroivueta said they should be able to start the food distribution in the Central Division before the end of the second quarter this year.

"It can help reduce beggars on our streets and it can and it would support them too because the reason for begging differs," he said.

"Some beg for employment, some to exploit the system and it should be noted that not all people who beg are poor…. that's the key statement.

"We must be very careful when we give to them either on temporary basis or as a solution."

Dr Koroivueta said this initiative would be under the management of a NGO.

He said people could come to these organisations if they needed food and the NGOs would work out the criteria.

"Three banks will be established in Suva, Lautoka and one in the North," said Dr Koroivueta.

While launching the initiative, Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma said the Food Bank was unique because it relies mainly on donations from the public

The Food Bank is expected to be opened in the Central Division by the end of July before it opens its other branches in the West and North.