Food bank forced to halve service because of demand

By Maurice Garvey

A FOOD bank that the EU has used as a template across Europe, has been forced to cut their service in half due to a surge in numbers.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) in Cherry Orchard had to stop providing a weekly food bank last month, instead cutting the service to once every fortnight.

Cherry Orchard04 compressor 1

Food bank in Cherry Orchard

Since it started up two years ago, the food bank at Orchard Community Centre has grown from feeding 60 people a week, to up to 180 people a week, a total which includes approximately 30 people in Balgaddy.

The Echo understands the supply of food is reliant on EU funding, delivered to charity groups in Ireland via a scheme run by the Department of Social Protection.

“We won’t know until December if they will increase funds, but if the Department can increase our funds they will,” said Marie Cronin, SVP area vice-president.

“It is down to a lack of food coming in. We’re getting enough for 100 people, yet we’re helping 120-150 per week. Our problem, is that in order to help everybody, we have to do it every second week. We also have 30 people in Balgaddy.”

A visit by EU officials to the Cherry Orchard food bank in early 2018, praised the ‘discreet’ nature of the operation, and informed Ms Cronin they would use it as a template across the EU.

Ms Cronin, who was calling for the service to be expanded last year, is hoping that the Dept will “double the supply” of food they need in Cherry Orchard to meet demand.

“This is the first time we are struggling. At the start we had 60 people, but other groups in the city have also grown their members.

The stigma around food banks has reduced, many people need it to survive.”

She continued: “Everyone is vetted by SVP, they are on our books. Nobody is forced to go but we will visit them and if they want to go to the food bank they can.

It is very busy on Friday’s at the centre, with a queue in the corridor. Everyone is given two boxes, but we are running short on things like peas, beans and tea bags.”

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