A religious service has been held at a food bank in Derry to thank local people for supporting the charity.
The Pantry Project – a cross-community initiative – has provided food to more than two and a half thousand men, women and children who have experienced hardship. The project was started two years ago by the Churches Trust, the organisation founded by the leaders of the city’s main Christian churches to ‘Stand Together with Those in Need’.
On Thursday afternoon, the two local bishops and other clergy joined staff and committee members at the charity’s food depot for a Dedication Service. Children from Drumahoe Primary School also took part, representing pupils from local schools which have supported the project since it was launched.
The chairman of the Churches Trust, Father Michael Canny, told those present that as Christians they were alert to the love, light and peace of Christ that surrounded them. It made them more acutely aware of the needs of others and of the tremendous inequality in the world today. He said the object of the Pantry Project wasn’t to create a dependency among those who received help, but rather to offer them hope that their situations could be improved.
Speaking on behalf of the trustees, the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Ken Good, described the Pantry Project as a significant project which was meeting real need in the North West. He thanked the committee members and volunteers who collected and distributed food to individuals and families in need, and especially all those in the community who generously donated groceries to the food bank.
The Dedication Service included readings from Matthew’s Gospel and Acts, as well as hymn-singing. Prayers were read by some of those involved in working with or supporting the Pantry Project.
The Pantry Project was set up by the Churches Trust two years ago as a crisis response to meet the needs of people (individuals and families) who for one reason or another found themselves in a situation of extreme hardship. The Churches Trust collects donations and works with community hubs in the distribution of food, at all times preserving the dignity of recipients and treating them with the respect they deserve. People from all walks of life have accessed the project. Over the last months it has provided food to more than 2500 people (children and adults).
Donations for the Pantry Project are raised by appealing to churches and schools. The Project appeals to individual churches twice a year by asking members to bring non-perishable foods to church. The donations are then collected by The Churches Trust and brought to the Project’s food depot. Non-perishable foods include: tinned fish, meat, soup and vegetables; tinned fruit, rice and custard; biscuits, spaghetti/pasta, tinned/instant potatoes, pasta sauce, cuppa soups, cereals, super/pot noodles, tea/coffee, hot chocolate, long-life milk, jam, etc.
People can be referred to the project by contacting their local community groups, or Greater Shantallow Area Partnership (Ethos project), or Waterside Neighbourhood Partnership. Referrals have also been made via churches or directly to The Churches Trust.