(Hagåtña, Guam) – Responding to the concerns of the people of Guam, many of who observed strained operations and experienced long wait times at the food commodity distribution site this morning in Tiyan, Vice Speaker Telena Cruz Nelson has reiterated her request for the Guam National Guard to assist with logistics, and for the Department of Public Health and Social Services to take over operations in support of the Guam Department of Education’s main mission.
“Before the sun rose this morning, many of our people were waiting in line to receive the basic necessity of food, only for many of them to be turned away due to overwhelming numbers,” said Vice Speaker Telena Cruz Nelson. “This is a sobering realization that many of our people are suffering and are struggling to feed their families. This means that our government must re-think the current distribution sites and system to better serve the needs of our people. It is clear that what we are currently providing is a significant need that will require more support moving forward and for an undetermined amount of time.”
Vice Speaker Nelson wrote to the Governor on May 23, 2020, requesting the activation of the Guam National Guard to assist GDOE with the food commodity packaging and distribution. The Vice Speaker additionally advocated for the program to be expanded to include distribution sites in the Northern, Central and Southern regions for increased accessibility. It was welcome news that GDOE moved the distribution site to the Tiyan baseball field in light of traffic concerns at the Piti warehouse, and that the Dededo Farmer’s Market would be an additional distribution site on May 28, 2020. However, in light of the strained operations observed during this morning’s distribution, Vice Speaker Nelson is again advocating for the Governor to activate the Guam National Guard to assist the program for logistical purposes and for an additional distribution site to be added in southern Guam.
The Vice Speaker also wrote to the GDOE Superintendent and DPHSS Director advocating for a realignment of responsibility and oversight of The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). The services provided by the federal program, as well as its mission, more closely align with that of DPHSS, Nelson stated. As the agency continues to respond to the public health emergency, the Vice Speaker offered that the activation of the Guam National Guard could serve to fill-in the gaps, and provide logistical support and subject matter expertise. She urged GDOE to focus on their main mission and take full advantage of the summer months ahead to prepare schools, faculty and staff, and students for the next school year, in consideration of the current crisis.
“We are confident the program and logistics will improve, but we earnestly believe that the steps we’ve outlined will help us improve quicker,” Nelson said. “We have the resources to make the process easier, more efficient and more accessible for our people and those assisting with the packaging and distributing. We need only to use our hearts and expand our vision to empathize and connect with the needs of our people.”
For more information, please contact Tihu Lujan at The Office of Vice Speaker
Telena Cruz Nelson at (671) 989-7696 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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