Posted: Friday, April 24, 2020. 1:00 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: The Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation, and Poverty Alleviation says that it has been reliably informed of instances in which members of the public are being falsely called by persons claiming to represent the Ministry and informed that they have been approved for food assistance before directing them to a nearby store.
The ministry says that these reports not only hinder the processing of potential beneficiaries by creating confusion among applicants and store owners, but, more seriously, represent a cruel lack of compassion for Belizeans who are most in need during this time.
The Ministry says that it strongly discourages any such behaviour, and to mitigate these types of malicious acts, the public is advised of the following:
The Food Assistance process begins with the intake (either by calling one of the intake numbers or by filling out the form available on the Facebook page).
After intake has been successfully completed, an assessment officer will call back applicants using the numbers they have provided. Please note that none of the Ministry’s numbers are unlisted or private.
The Assessment Officer will process the applicant and inform them if they have been approved.
Eligibility depends on factors such as other assistance that the household might be receiving which is verified with the Social Security Board and the Ministry’s internal BOOST and Pantry databases.
Once the order has been processed, the successful applicant will receive two sets of numbers with instructions on how to collect their Food Assistance.
All successful applicants are encouraged to wait a half-day before checking in with the stores to give them time to process the information.
Additionally, they are asked to note the name and phone number of the officer who called them.
Also, store owners working with the program are asked to request official ID from anyone claiming to be from the Ministry and to only release information to potential beneficiaries.
If the successful applicant is unable to access food assistance, they are encouraged to call one of the following numbers that have been reallocated to receive and log queries.
For English, call 613-0965 or 613-1424. For Spanish, call 613-0513 or 613-0986.
The Ministry says that it strongly discourages any attempt to confuse or frustrate applicants of the Food Assistance Programme as it is ultimately unhelpful and demonstrates a deep lack of empathy and compassion for those who are vulnerable during this time.
In their statement, the Ministry didn’t indicate how, if the people making false calls, accessed phone numbers of the people applying for the program.
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