Foodbank will feed ‘thousands’ this year

Foyle Foodbank volunteers Alan Bailey and Peter Moore pictured encouraging businesses to sign up to the Christmas Food Drive.
Foyle Foodbank volunteers Alan Bailey and Peter Moore pictured encouraging businesses to sign up to the Christmas Food Drive.

Bags of shopping sit piled high at the Foyle Foodbank, filled to bursting with food.

Volunteers organise them into sections, colour-coded for different groups; the single man; a one-parent family, a large family and the working couple.

All of these groups - and more - are applying for emergency food parcels all year round, but at Christmas the need is greater.

Last year the charity managed to provide 5,500 families with food parcels - and they expect this year’s numbers to exceed that again.

Manager, Maria McGlynn said: “There are 72 centres referring those in need to the Foodbank. They include churches, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, local community groups, charities, the list goes on. Last year was very busy but this year is significantly busier already.

“We expect to feed in excess of 6,000 families, probably in the region of 30,000 people.

“The people of Derry are so generous; the support locally is great.”

The Foyle Foodbank is now under the Trussell Trust, a UK wide charity providing food for those in need.

And those coming to the charity come from all walks of life as Maria explained. “A wide spectrum of people arrive at our door; those on benefits, the homeless and increasingly, the working poor, those who have two jobs and still struggle to feed their families.

“There are also applications from those living at addresses that people in Derry would consider prosperous areas. It doesn’t take much to fall onto hard times, and we help everyone, regardless of where they live.”

As we chat two people arrive for their food parcels, and you can see on their faces that it’s an obvious relief to be getting some help.

Volunteer, Peter Moore, used the Foodbank himself in recent times, and now he’s back, but this time he’s helping out. “The Foodbank was a lifeline when I needed it. So it’s great to be back here giving something back.

“People come in with their heads down but they leave smiling, knowing that’s them sorted for a while. That’s great to see.”

Along with volunteer, Alan Bailey, who picked up a ‘Volunteer of the Year’ Award earlier this year, the two men show me what goes into the food parcels.

There’s a breakfast, a lunch and dinner, with cereal, UHT milk. tinned vegetables, fish and meat, tinned custrad or rice and some fruit alongside tea/coffee and sugar and at this time of year there’s also a bag with maybe a box of biscuits, a selection box, Christmas pudding or cake and a few sweets for the children.

Essentials that will hopefully make somebody’s Christmas a bit brighter.

If you want to donate food items you can do so at the Sainsbury’s collection point, or to the offices on Pump Street.

For more information about the Foodbank you can contact Maria on 07716129788.