‘We don’t want anyone to be struggling:’ Inishowen Food Bank is there for the community

As the cost of living continues to rise, Inishowen Food Bank has encouraged anyone needing that extra bit of support to avail of their service.

The food bank was set up in 2020 during the Covid 19 pandemic and has continued to operate across the peninsula, with a number of groups coming together in Buncrana, Clonmany, Carndonagh, Newtowncunningham and Moville in a partnership approach.

In recent months, as everyone begins to feel the pinch of rising prices, the Inishowen Food Bank has also been seeing an increase in those seeking their support.

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Ruth Garvey-Williams, who operates the food bank from The Exchange in Buncrana, said they are also asking anyone who needs some support to get in touch.

The food bank was set up in 2020.

“We’ve definitely had an increase and I also think that we have numbers of people who need to avail of the service, but perhaps don’t due to embarrassment etc. We would ask anyone who needs us to please get in touch and we will do what we can.”

The service is completely confidential and Ruth told how everyone involved is fully aware of how important getting that extra bit of support is.

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“I think that most of us involved have experienced being at the other end of it and we know what it’s like and how easy it is to be in a position to need it.”

Ruth outlined how some people attend the food bank every two weeks, some for a month and for others, it is a one-off service.

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“Sometimes, people can get a massive bill, for example a car might break down and suddenly, they find they can’t make ends meet. The last thing we want is to see anyone going hungry.”

Ruth said those in the food bank see people of all ages and finances coming forward and that those in middle incomes and at the low end of working incomes are finding themselves ‘really squeezed.’

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“The summer months can be particularly difficult for people as well, with the kids being at home and needing more food. It can be a real struggle.”

The food bank is available across the peninsula and Ruth said all the groups work in partnership with each other to make sure the whole community is cared for.

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“Every centre does things a little differently. Clonmany has the amazing community pantry; Spraoi agus Sport does great work in Carndonagh, as does Trinity Court in Newtowncunningham and the team in Moville. Muff Red Cross also did great work during lockdown. We co-ordinate with each other and also share resources.”

There are a number of drop off points in supermarkets across Inishowen and anyone who would like to donate to the food bank can do so via that facility. Donations can also be taken at any of the centres, or online via Paypal on The Exchange website - www.exchangeinishowen.ie. Ruth said donations are down at the minute, which could also be down to people ‘feeling the pinch’ themselves.

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In the current climate, they do not want to pressure anyone to donate, but would be grateful to anyone in a position to do so.

The food bank has also partnered with Food Cloud, which connects businesses that have surplus food with Charities and Community Groups, which in turn, tackles food waste.

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Ruth outlined how, in a recent price comparison, they found the cost of basics have substantially increased. “For example, in October last year, the cost of butter in one of the cheaper supermarkets was E2.19 and that’s now up to E2.99. That’s a huge difference and that’s just for the basics. Then you’ve the increases in fuel, electricity etc, on top of that.”

The food bank, she said, is a ‘little helping hand’ and added how ‘no-one should be going into debt to pay their food bill for the week.’

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She noted how many who previously sought the support of the food bank are ‘back on their feet’ and ‘giving back’ through donations or volunteering.

“It’s about community. We all care for one another and are all going through tough times. We don’t want anyone to be struggling.”

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If you wish to avail of the support of the food bank, see www.exchangeinishowen.ie where there is an order form and a telephone number. All requests are confidential.