A Derry foodbank has given away 12,000 meals worth of food parcels in just four months, with demand expected to soar even higher in the run up to Christmas.
The shocking levels of hidden poverty across the city were laid bare yesterday as the Rotary Foyle Foodbank launched their first citywide drive to ensure no-one goes hungry this Christmas.
The launch took place on Monday at the Guildhall, with Derry’s Mayor Brenda Stevenson and volunteers from the foodbank in attendance.
Those running the foodbank described how there has been “huge demand” to date as more and more local families are referred from a range of different directions as they face being forced to chose between food and heating.
Speaking to the Journal, chairman of the Foodbank John McMonagle said: “For three years we have been raising money at the Tree of Remembrance and we have been turning that into hampers.
“Every year the need is more and more and we decided about a year ago that we now need to do something that wasn’t just two weeks in a year but was something that was going to happen throughout the year so the idea of the Foodbank was born.
“We kicked off the foodbank on the 14th of May and we have provided from then to now 12,000 meals. With those 12,000 meals we have fed 1,450 people.”
Mr McMonagle said all the recipients were “genuinely in need of food”.
“The foodbank we run is an emergency foodbank, it’s not propping up anyone’s finances. We have a rule, ‘three in six’- you only get three vouchers in any six month period.
“It is unbelievable the level of need for food out there.”
He added: “We know at Christmas time it will be flat out. We want the whole city to get behind us as the foodbank knows no barriers. It is not concentrated on one section of society it is across the board.”
Last year the Rotary Memory Tree outside Foyleside raised £14,000, which was then converted into food parcels.
Among those supporting the initiative are local schools, Derry’s Chamber of Commerce and supermarket giant Sainsburys.
Mr McMonagle said Sainsburys have been “very generous” in making donations of food to help local people.