Demand at Foyle Foodback up 75% during the Covid-19 pandemic

The Foyle Foodbank provided food to 6,805 people in 2020, an increase in demand of almost 75 per cent on the previous year.

Friday, 9th July 2021, 2:22 pm
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

The figures were revealed in the local foodbank’s annual report, which was published earlier this week.

The organisation has said the extra demand was as a direct effect of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Foyle Foodbank became a key front-line organisation during the lockdowns and extended their service to five days a week.

The local charity distributed almost 60 tonnes of food and hygiene products, an increase of 123 per cent from 2019.

Foodbank users redeemed 2,498 food parcel vouchers which supported 6,805 people in food crisis, namely 3,743 adults and 3,062 children.

In 2019, 1,354 food parcel vouchers were redeemed and supported 3,926 people in need of assistance.

The majority of foodbank users, 66 per cent, said that low income was the reason they found themselves in food poverty.

Eleven per cent said that benefit changes was the reason they required the assistance of the foodbank and eight per cent identified benefit delays as the reason.

The local community donated 65 tonnes of food and hygiene products to the Foodbank in 2020, an increase of 63 per cent, and financial donations allowed the organisation to include fresh food vouchers in food parcels.

The annual statement recognised that despite the Foyle area being one of the most economically deprived areas in Britain and Ireland, it is ‘undoubtedly one of the most generous’.

Chairperson of Foyle Foodbank, Denis McGowan, said: “The biggest daily challenge facing many vulnerable families and individuals in Foyle is finding the money to buy food. And, even if they have the money to buy food, often they have to choose between food or some other vital necessity.

“All it takes is an unexpected problem, illness or job loss that will reduce the weekly income. People suddenly find themselves exposed without enough money for one of life’s basic needs - food to eat.”

Mr McGowan said that people in the Foyle area “want job opportunities that provide a decent standard of living for themselves and their families.”

“And when those job opportunities aren’t there, people need a state-run benefits system that prevents them from falling into poverty and deprivation. But it must be a benefit system that does not force them into seeking help from food banks.”