For decades the St Vincent de Paul Society and The Salvation Army have been working together distributing emergency provisions to those in need, but the difference with The Roe Valley Community Food Bank is it involves a number of local churches, donor agencies and schools.
Officially open since last week, the independent food bank is situated at the Salvation Army centre on Main Street in Limavady.
“The idea came from the need within the community; people referred to the Salvation Army and the St Vincent de Paul. We knew quite a number of people in our community needed food and we wanted to extend that. We felt we were reaching out to some people in the community but not all people. For example people on low incomes, short term contracts, zero hours, and who find the money isn’t there and who need help,” said steering committee member Captain Joan Archibald.
Fellow committee member, Hazel Brooks said while the official open hours are Mondays 11am-12noon and also Fridays 2-3pm, if someone comes to the Salvation Army centre outside those times “we will help”.
“There is no stigma with it,” said Ms Brooks. “I have had to use a food bank in the past. No one should feel embarrassed or ashamed. Come here and we will help.”
Committee member, Tom Adams said: “It is about making a difference and the idea is to help people who, through no fault of their own don’t have the finances to buy food. For example if they’ve an unexpected bill and when they pay for that they realise they don’t have enough money to feed their family. During the summer there are no school meals or breakfast clubs, and we are happy to help there. It’s a practical way to help the community,” said Mr Adams.
Jim Herron said referral agencies will direct people to the food bank.
“You want to make it as easy as possible for people who will come here, and make them feel in no way embarrassed, and we are lucky in where we are set up is very welcoming. We have a lot of donor agencies - churches, schools and service agencies - who we hope will contribute to the food bank. A lot of things will be worked out as we go along and we’re in the early stages. I suppose it will be a learning curve for all of us.”
Food bags are designed to suit different domestic situations, for example if someone is married and has children, or a single person.
“The food packs have an emergency provisions supply for three days, maybe the person’s benefit has been delayed or another exceptional expenditure has come up so, it’s really to get people over that initial emergency, maybe two or three days,” said Mr Herron.
For assistance, or if you would like to donate, call 028 7772 2613.