St Anthony’s Kitchen turns away no one - king or pauper
Over the last six years, St Anthony's Kitchen at Nonpareil Road has been feeding close to 200 people each weekday in Negril, which, despite its status as a resort town, is characterised by pockets of poverty.
The facility, which is a stone's throw from the town centre, is the joint effort of the Mary Gate of Heaven Catholic Church, which is led by priest Father Jim Bok, and the decade-old Rotary Club of Negril. Most of the beneficiaries, including shut-ins, are residents of the nearby Whitehall and Red Ground communities in Negril.
St Anthony's Kitchen is operated through funds raised by the church and the Rotary Club, as well as donations from the Negril tourism community and benefactors in North America.
Approximately 50 of those catered to each day are children, who are beneficiaries of the breakfast programme. The lunch programme sees adults being served a balanced meal, inclusive of soup, chicken, rice and vegetables at midday.
In fact, anyone who is hungry and turns up at the facility for something to eat on a weekday will be served. Whether a king or a pauper, no one is turned away.
The facility is closed for two weeks each year during the Christmas period, but the beneficiaries of the programme are fÍted at this time and provided with supplies of food items and toiletries to cover the period of the closure.
Just this Christmas, the Rotary Club of Negril provided food baskets for approximately 200 persons, some of whom came from other parishes.
For Rotary Club of Negril President Elaine Bradley, the continued involvement of her organisation was a response to the poverty in the area.
"We found out after doing it for a while [that] there are so many people that need clothes [and] food, and a lot of the patrons are squatters - some from as far as St Catherine and other parts of the island. They have fallen on hard times because they have no jobs. A lot are old and sick - diabetic and asthmatic. The church supplies them with medication and basic asthmatic inhalers," she said.
The church and Rotary have helped to bury some of them as well," Bradley added.