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Embassy Works to Cultivate Good Relations Between the US and Fiji

Friday 21st December, 2007 -------- Today, promotion of good relations between Fiji and the United States of America took another step forward when Staff and families of the Fiji Embassy in Washington, District of Columbia (DC) United States of America led by the Charge d’ Affaires Mr. Peni Lomaloma and the Second Secretary Mrs. Cheryl Brown-Irava visited Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area’s largest, public nonprofit hunger and nutrition education resource center, the Capital Area Food Bank and donated money partly raised by the Embassy Staff themselves that would provide 6000 meals for the hungry people in the Washington DC area. The Fiji Embassy Staff and their families also volunteered at the Capital Area Food Bank and helped packed 5000 pounds of food for distribution to the 700 member agencies of the Capital Area Food Bank who serve over 275,000 Washington, D.C residents who are at risk of hunger every year.

In the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area, there are approximately 633,000 residents who are at risk of, or experiencing hunger. The poverty rate for school children ages 5 - 17 in the District of Columbia is 51.3 percent compared with 34.5 percent nationally, the highest in the nation. This translates to 200,000 children at risk of hunger in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area – or 1 in 2 children.

The Capital Area Food Bank each year distributes 20 million pounds of food, including 6 million pounds of fresh produce through over 700 member agencies to over 275,000 Washington, D.C residents who are at risk of hunger every year.

Explaining the donation today Charge d’ Affaires Mr. Peni Lomaloma said at this time of celebration and merriment it is important that we take time out to remember the less fortunate who may be going hungry during this time of feasting.

“The Embassy through its donation wants to show the people of Washington and America that Fiji and its Embassy in Washington care and want to help," said the Charge d’ Affaires Mr. Peni Lomaloma.

“Fiji is a long time friend of America. We have shown our friendship through the World Wars when our brave soldiers shed their blood far away from home in the cause of freedom. We continue to show our friendship in the various peace missions that we are a part of throughout the world today.”

During this special season we want to show our friendship again by reaching out to those around us right here in Washington who are in need and extending to them a helping hand. During this Christmas season some may go hungry because they cannot afford a simple meal. The Embassy and the People of Fiji through the small donation given today hopes to be able to make a small difference at least in the life of one person in the city of Washington during this Christmas season,” continued Mr. Peni Lomaloma.

“The Embassy plans to do more outreach activities in future as a way to build bridges between the US and Fiji and promote greater understanding between the two nations.”

In receiving the gift and in welcoming the Embassy volunteers to its HQ and Central Warehouse in Washington DC today the Capital Area Food Bank Chief Development Officer Christel Allen Hair noted that the donation would impact a lot of people especially children in the Washington DC area:

“We estimate that approximately 633,000 residents in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area are at risk of hunger, 200,000 are children. The donation by the Embassy will provide 6000 meals to the hungry people of Washington,” explained Ms Hair.

“During Christmas the Food Bank needs a lot of help in pushing out food to our customers especially children. The visit of the Embassy is timely in that it will help push out more food to this vulnerable group”, noted the Capital Area Food Bank Chief Development Officer.

The Fiji Embassy Staff and their families today packed 5000 pounds of food for distribution to over 275,000 Washington, D.C residents who are at risk of hunger every year.