A Journey with Food For The Poor Jamaica

Food For The Poor's operation in Jamaica began in 1982 where goods were brought in the island through the Catholic Relief Service, located at Emerald Road in Kingston. All distribution was done from this location. The legal firm, Myers, Fletchers, Gordon spearheaded the paperwork of incorporating Food For The Poor as a charitable, non-profit organization. They also directed efforts towards obtaining duty free exemption and tax free status. It was later incorporated in Jamaica as a locally registered company by founder, Ferdinand Mahfood on June 14, 1983.

At that time, Food For The Poor Jamaica occupied a small corner of Wisynco's warehouse at White Marl in St. Catherine. There were approximately eight persons on staff who worked two or three days per week. The primary item distributed then was rice in 20-pound packages. Due to limited space at the facility, these were stored in shipping containers. As the imports grew, the warehouse was relocated to bigger facilities at Third Street in Newport West. Not long after, Hurricane Gilbert struck the island on September 12, 1988 and the building was vandalized and looted. Subsequently, operations were moved to Laws Street Trade Training Centre at an auditorium offered by Sister Mary Benedict Chung, who later served as our chairman and is currently a member of the organization's Board of Directors.

After a year's sojourn at Laws Street, FFP's operations were relocated to a new warehouse that was built at Wisynco. Subsequently, lands were acquired in Ellerslie, Spanish Town and there a warehouse was built. In 1995, the White Marl operations were moved to this location. In 2000, a second warehouse was built to accommodate food donated under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) agreement. Our method of helping those in need is simply an act of asking clergy and missionaries, working directly with the poor, "What do you need? and then supplying the needed items. This method assures us that the goods are delivered directly and quickly to those who need them most. The materially poor are served by local churches, clergy and other charitable institutions that have been empowered and supplied with goods by FFP.

What started out as a little space in a warehouse has grown to become the largest charity organization in Jamaica. Its main affiliate, FFP Inc. located in the United States, has been named the largest international relief organization in the United States. More than 96 percent of all donations go directly towards programmes that help the poor.

In 2012, Food For The Poor Jamaica received and distributed 830 containers of food, school furniture, medical supplies, agricultural items, building materials and other miscellaneous items across the island valued at over JA $8.5 billion. This is an increase from JA $6.8 billion worth of items in 2011.

The driving force behind the ministry of Food for the Poor lies in the challenge presented in St. Matthew 25:40, "As often as you did it for one of the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it for me." It is Food For The Poor's servent belief that in serving the poor, we serve Christ.