Meads Bay Beach, Anguilla

COVID-19, it turns out, is even more devastating to the Caribbean island of Anguilla than a Category 5 hurricane. There’s no insurance to cover loss from a pandemic and most hotels will remain closed for at least seven months.

Since tourism is the island’s primary source of employment, Bob and Melinda Blanchard are raising money to turn their world-renowned restaurant, Blanchards, into a Food Bank until the island is able to welcome guests back to paradise.

Blanchards Anguilla Children’s Fund

To date, the Blanchards have raised over $200,000, helping to feed more than 1,000 Anguillian families.

The Blanchards’ non-profit organization, Blanchards Anguilla Children’s Fund (BACF), has already created a COVID-19 Food Voucher Program which is well underway, using donations to provide groceries for the island’s most vulnerable.

The Blanchards are trying to raise enough money to not only transform their restaurant into a food bank but to create a mobile fleet to distribute food to the island’s more remote areas.

In 2017, Hurricane Irma closed Anguilla for a full year. Bob and Melinda swiftly transformed their restaurant into a relief center, providing much needed food and supplies for the island. Now with COVID-19, residents are facing months without jobs.

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Hotels and resorts have confirmed they will not be opening until next season, which translates to early November.

Anguillians are worried. “We’re a small, vulnerable island. A hurricane is predictable. You know it’s coming so you prepare for it, and when it passes, you rebuild and get going again,” says Miguel Leveret.

As over 180 countries continue to treat people suffering with COVID-19, the island of Anguilla is COVID-free with no new cases for over eight weeks. Although that alone is a reason to celebrate, Anguillians are concerned when experts say that international travel will be the last segment of the economy to bounce back.

Anguilla resident Tarah Baker adds, “This is much scarier than any hurricane. When people can’t travel from the U.S. and other countries, our hotel rooms are empty, restaurants are closed, taxis are parked, and the government has substantially less income from taxes.”

Bob and Melinda Blanchard
[Bob and Melinda Blanchard; photo by ©thierrydehove.com]

Melinda Blanchard receives a steady stream of emails and texts from Anguillians asking for help. “The need increases every day and residents are finding it more and more difficult to feed their families”, according to Melinda.

You too can help! Visit BACF online for more information or to donate.

About Blanchards Anguilla Children’s Fund

Bob and Melinda Blanchard, U.S. citizens and restaurateurs on the island for 25 years, founded BACF as a 501c3 non-profit company in 2006, initially to raise money for schools and various youth programs. In 2017, when Hurricane Irma destroyed the island, the Blanchards expanded their mission to help the larger community and raised just under $1 million to purchase generators, food and other necessities for the island.

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