Foodbank call for donations ahead of expected surge this Christmas

Ciaran Harte, Customer Trade and Food Manager at Sainsburys Foodbank collection point.
Ciaran Harte, Customer Trade and Food Manager at Sainsburys Foodbank collection point.

Foodbank donations may prove crucial in the run up to Christmas with an expected rise in the number of local families needing emergency food packages this festive period.

The prediction comes amid the fallout of Universal Credit, which has seen a surge in the uptake of foodbank services in the city. However, Ciaran Harte, Sainsburys’ Customer Trade and Food Manager, is hopeful that locals can help meet this growing demand. Embodying the generous spirit of the season is something which, Ciaran says, comes naturally to Derry people all year round.

“The generosity of local people is what keeps the collection points both here and at Tesco, topped up throughout the year. We hope that kindness will continue as we launch donation food drives over the next few months,” he commented.

Committed to making a positive difference within the community, Sainsbury’s Christmas tree initiative will give people the option to take a tag and purchase a particular Sainsbury’s basic item for the foodbank. In addition, the supermarket’s recent partnership with Depaul Foyle Haven aims to put surplus food to good use.

“The launch of our ‘back-of-store’ initiative this week has been exciting,” Ciaran said. “It means the stuff we can no longer sell- both food and non-food products- but still of good quality, can be given to those who need it most. It also reduces wastage and helps us do our bit for the environment too.”

From baked goods to flower bouquets, Ciaran notes it’s often the smallest gestures which mean the most. “It’s very intimidating to walk in and avail of foodbank services. At this point the penny drops for most people, who question ‘How did I get to this point in my life?’” he said. “We want to help ease that burden and sometimes an unexpected token like a bunch of flowers can brighten someone’s day.”

Working closely with Foyle Foodbank Manager, James McMenamin, both Sainsburys and Tescos are taking a united stand to ensure the charity meets demand. Praising the kindness of local people, James has called for volunteers to help sort and pack items at their busiest time of the year.

He added: “Last December we provided between 40 and 60 families with emergency food packages and we’re expecting a huge increase in that number this Christmas. Whilst we have been very lucky with people in this town, and of course local businesses, we hope people can offer their time as well.”

With a series of food drives and flag days planned for the coming weeks, the public are asked to give what they can to make a difference in the lives of others.

Witnessing the goodness of the community at the most difficult of times, James concluded: “To cross that door is the hardest thing people will ever have to do but it’s heartening to see that once we get people back on their feet, many return to us in a volunteering capacity to show their gratitude by giving something back.”

To volunteer or for more information email: Foylefoodbank@gmail.com