Urgent: You can help Mercy Bakery bake and deliver fresh bread to starving families in Yemen. COVID-19 threatens food availability…
Having access to food is something we often take for granted. Mercy Bakery is an idea that was founded on the principle that people should have access to the most basic form of substance: bread. With the mission to provide free public bakeries around the world for those in need, the first branch of Mercy Bakery opened in Sana’a, Yemen in August of 2018. Through our 5 Mercy Bakery locations across Yemen, we have been able to safely deliver and provide over 14,400 loaves of warm, fresh bread to thousands of families every day. That’s ~446,400 pieces of bread every month. And a total of 5,256,000 pieces of bread fed to Yemeni families in a year! With an additional 4 bakeries and kitchens under construction. We are open seven days a week and guarantee food security to those in the community for one year through a needs-based voucher program. With an operating cost of $5,500 a month, which includes supplies, maintenance, and salaries for the staff, that amounts to less than 3 cents a loaf! Just imagine how far a donation can go into feeding entire families where the typical household has 7 people.
Seeing the success of bakeries and community involvement in the initiative, made us want to expand our services to the governorates most affected by the crisis. Our locations are now at bakeries that have kitchens to provide individuals more nutritious food and meals as gas prices have increased, which hinders the ability of families to make their own meals. In Sana’a, we currently have 2 functioning bakeries and 2 functioning kitchens. Meanwhile, in Alhodaidah, we currently have 2 bakeries and 1 kitchen. Receiving families undergo a comprehensive needs assessment. HRD staff, largely women, conduct home visits of potential aid recipients to catalogue income, family size, and employment status. Recipients are not charged for food, instead a card punch system that can be renewed every 30 days is in place.
Bakeries and Kitchens are not advertised as food distribution sites, allowing families to enter and leave freely without fear of neighbors suspecting they are receiving aid. Local staff and volunteers serve as bakers, delivery personnel, security, and supply procurers alongside representatives of each district to enforce a dignified treatment of each participant. We have created a delivery system to assist the disabled, elderly and beneficiaries who wish to remain anonymous for safety reasons. If families stop coming for food, HRD staff and volunteers go to their homes to check up on them and see if they wish to continue with our services. As around 90% of Yemen’s food supply is imported, local procurement of goods is prioritized with the intent to support the economy. Food security should be something that no one should worry about and at HRD we aim to help those with a lack of resources.
Responding to the Coronavirus Outbreak
Unrelenting war and a decimated health system places Yemen in a vulnerable position, especially given the COVID-19 epidemic and cholera outbreak. Humanity for Relief and Development places safety at the top of our list and we are taking precautions as COVID-19 grows in Yemen. Our staff are equipped with gloves, masks, cleaning, and disinfectant supplies as to not be impacted by the virus. Our vicinities are sanitized several times daily for further preventive measures. HRD is distributing masks and hand sanitizers alongside bread to protect service recipients against exposure to the virus. Proper hand washing and health sanitation techniques are being taught to prevent the spread of infection. Health information is also being provided to families on how they can stay safe.
We need your help to support this important work to keep families healthy, fed, and safe during this humanitarian crisis.
The current circumstances have made famine inescapable. Mercy Bakery works to maintain its presence in the region.
June 18, 2020