Foodbank demand falls in Derry and Strabane but demand higher than before pandemic - 43% of parcels in area given to children in last year

Foodbanks handed out fewer packages in Derry City and Strabane last year, according to new figures, but demand for emergency parcels is still above pre-pandemic levels.

By Will Grimond
Wednesday, 27th April 2022, 11:35 am

The Trussell Trust, a charity tackling poverty in the UK, supports the country’s largest network of food banks. Over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, they have seen a dramatic increase in the number of emergency food parcels handed out to those in need.

Figures from the charity show 10,988 emergency food parcels were handed out to people in Derry City and Strabane in the year to March.

Although a decrease on the on the 19,687 emergency food parcels distributed in the year to March 2021, it was up 125% on the 4,877 provided in the year to March 2020, before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The exterior of the Foyle Foodbank in Springtown Industrial Estate, Derry. DER2619GS-056

The Trussell Trust said the first year of the pandemic led to exceptional demand for support.

The charity typically hands out emergency packages containing three days’ worth of food. Since the start of the pandemic, it has also started providing supplies in seven-day packages, in response to growing need and to limit the number of deliveries.

Across Northern Ireland, 61,597 parcels were handed out by the nation’s 52 distribution centres in the year to March.

The Trussell Trust warned that food bank use has accelerated in the past six months, as the rising cost of basic amenities has hit people’s pockets.

Emma Revie, chief executive of the charity, said: “People are telling us they’re skipping meals so they can feed their children. That they are turning off essential appliances so they can afford internet access for their kids to do their homework.

“How can this be right in a society like ours? And yet food banks in our network tell us this is only set to get worse as their communities are pushed deeper into financial hardship.

“No one’s income should fall so dangerously low that they cannot afford to stay fed, warm and dry.”

In the year to March, 43% – or 4,740 – of the parcels handed out in Derry City and Strabane were given to children, up from 2,070 in the year before the pandemic.