Almost 500 children and even more adults were forced to rely on emergency food packages over the Christmas period in Derry, it has emerged.
The Foyle Foodbank released the figures as it thanked everyone who contributed towards the 10 tonnes of food donated in December alone.
The charity said that the generosity of local people enabled them to provide emergency food to local people facing hunger before and after Christmas. A total of 1,160 local people benefited from three days emergency food supplies, including 480 children.
James McMenamin, voluntary manager at Foyle Foodbank, said: “We hope that one day there will be no need for a Foodbank in the City, but whilst our help is needed we will ensure people referred receive a non-judgmental welcome, space to be heard and the best support possible.
“We couldn’t keep the Foodbank’s doors open without local people as we rely on volunteers and donations from the public to make sure everyone who needs it receives a nutritionally balanced parcel of emergency food.”
Mr McMenamin said there had been a “fantastic response” to a three days Tesco Neighbourhood Collection in the Strand Road store. “The support from customers and staff genuinely overwhelming and we are ever grateful to our local Sainsbury’s who collect food for the Foodbank on a year round basis.”
The Foodbank’s first flag day event in November raised £1,847, while the Foodbank said it was “delighted” that the Rotary Club facilitated them to run the Tree of Remembrance outside Foyleside which resulted in almost £9,500 in donations.
The Tree of Remembrance allowed people to remember loved ones at Christmas whilst also raising funds for the Foodbank.
James said: “Thank you so much to everyone who has donated food, money or time to offer some help and hope to people when it is most needed.
“We have seen an incredible response from people across the City over the winter and are so grateful for, and humbled by the generosity of local individuals, organisations, schools, supermarkets and other businesses.
“Our food stocks have been given a huge boost and we can now support people through the cold winter months. Thank you all.”
Deirdre McDaid, Co-Chair of the Foyle Foodbank, said: “Over the past two months the Foodbank has fed many hundreds of people who would otherwise have faced going hungry at Christmas.
“No one should be unable to afford food, at any time of year. As we look ahead into the New Year, against a backdrop of record foodbank referrals, we’re committed to working towards a future where there is no need for foodbanks. Together with our distribution partners, we’ll ensure emergency food and help are available for anyone referred whilst at the same time challenging why people are being thrown into crisis in the first place.”
The Foyle Foodbank is based in the Apex Living Centre in Springtown Industrial Estate, and is open every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11.00am to 3.00pm. To make a donation or find out how to help Foyle Foodbank, visit www.foyle.foodbank.org.uk/ or call 07716129788.