Derry food poverty hits dismal high

The exterior of the Foyle Foodbank in Springtown Industrial Estate, Derry.  DER2619GS-056
The exterior of the Foyle Foodbank in Springtown Industrial Estate, Derry. DER2619GS-056

Food bank use in Derry has hit an alarming new high with thousands of hungry children and adults facing hardship and food poverty.

New figures provided by Foyle Foodbank show that, last year alone, 3,467 people - including 1,486 children - were fed thanks to the generosity of people across the NW.

Denis McGowan.

Denis McGowan.

Since it was set up three years ago, Foyle Foodbank has distributed 80+ metric tonnes of food to those people experiencing food poverty/crisis locally.

In the past twelve months alone, 20 metric tonnes of food was donated by the public to the local foodbank.

Foyle Foodbank chairman, Denis McGowan (pictured), in a letter appealing for more volunteers, said the group expects to outstrip that figure this year. “We would rather they were declining and that we were going out of business,” he said. “Unfortunately, for many complex and varied reasons, the number of people facing hardship and food poverty is rising.”

Mr McGowan believes that, but for the help and assistance of individuals and organisations across the NW, the situation could be much worse.

Members of the North West Islamic Association present a cheque for �2000 to James McMenamin, on the right manager of the Foyle Foodbank earlier this year. Included in the photograph are staff from the foodbank, The donation was the proceeds from the Ramadan fast challenge.   DER2619GS-055

Members of the North West Islamic Association present a cheque for �2000 to James McMenamin, on the right manager of the Foyle Foodbank earlier this year. Included in the photograph are staff from the foodbank, The donation was the proceeds from the Ramadan fast challenge. DER2619GS-055

Foyle Foodbank, he said, is fast approaching its “most challenging period” of the year - the run-up to Christmas.

“It is at this time of year that food poverty and its complex problems are greatly heightened within the community,” he said.

During November and December, Foyle Foodbank will aim to build up its food reserves via various food donation/collection programmes.

This extra seasonal work, says Denis McGowan, puts an enormous strain on his group’s bank of regular volunteers. “We simply need extra volunteers to help out in the run-up to Christmas,” he said.

James McMenamin, manager of the Foyle Foodbank in Springtown Industrial Estate, Derry pictured previously.  DER2619GS-054

James McMenamin, manager of the Foyle Foodbank in Springtown Industrial Estate, Derry pictured previously. DER2619GS-054

Letter to the Editor from Denis McGowan, Chairman, Foyle Foodbank:

Firstly, I would like to thank all those people and organisations within the North West for the help and assistance they have given to the Foyle Foodbank since it began over three years ago.

During that time, and simply because of your magnificent generosity, the Foyle Foodbank has distributed to those people experiencing food poverty/crisis, 80+metric tonnes of food.

Last year you donated 20 metric tonnes of food, which fed a total of 3,467 people, of whom 1486 were children.

This year we expect to surpass those numbers. We would rather they were declining and we were going out of business. Unfortunately, for many complex and varied reasons the number of people facing hardship and food poverty is rising.

The second purpose of this letter is to ask for volunteer help during what will be the Foyle Foodbank’s most challenging period, i.e. Christmas and the run up to it.

It is at this time, as you well know, that food poverty and its complex problems are greatly heightened within the community.

During November and December, the Foodbank will be heavily involved in building up its food reserves through various food donation/collection programmes.

It will also hold an important street collection/flag day on Wednesday 30th October, and along with other charities, man the Christmas Tree of Remembrance at Foyleside shopping centre from 6th to 24th December.

All this extra seasonal work puts an enormous strain on our bank of regular volunteers who are busy regularly manning the Foodbank and covering the extra periods needed to meet the increased demand for food.

We also need to carefully sort, weigh and safely store the many tonnes of donated food received that will replenish our dwindling stock.

We need extra volunteers with our flag day (2hour slots); we need extra volunteer help at the Foodbank itself during December to help sort and store the donated food, and we need help to man the Christmas Tree of Remembrance.

We would be grateful if you could consider offering some of your time as an Ad Hoc volunteer during November/ December.

If you would like more information about what’s involved, please contact James McMenamin (Manager) of the Foyle Foodbank. Tel. 07936358313

Once again, many thanks.

Denis Mc Gowan

(Chairperson)