Families go hungry while landlords raise the rents
By Mary Dennehy
INCREASING rents are taking food off tables in Tallaght, with hungry families turning to a Jobstown-based food bank which has handed out close to 750 hampers in the past five months.
Located on the parish grounds of St Thomas’s church, the Crosscare community food bank is run by local volunteers, in partnership with St Vincent de Paul – which together identify vulnerable families struggling to put food on the table.
When established more than 70 years ago, Crosscare’s primary function was to address the effects of food poverty, with its first food bank set-up over 30 years ago.
The first bank was created in Dublin in 1989 however, when the recent recession hit communities hard, Crosscare decided to introduce a new model called the Community Food Bank – which brings a more local and community-led approach to the issue of food poverty.
The Tallaght food bank is one of four banks across the city, with the Jobstown-base providing around 45 hampers to families each week – with close to 750 hampers being distributed since January.
The hampers, which reflect the size of the family, include non-perishables, cupboard basics, such as tea, sugar and pasta, frozen food, chilled foods, including cheese and yogurts, eggs, vegetables, toiletries and washing powder.
The food bank is a great example of how a community united can support vulnerable families, with the Mojo Men’s Shed project also looking after a vegetable patch at Crosscare, the produce of which is given to families as part of their food parcels.
Tallaght food co-ordinator Liam Byrne told The Echo: “We’re providing around 45 nourishing hampers each week to families who are struggling to feed themselves or some who have been living on mashed potato or pasta for weeks.
“There is a diverse number of reasons that people come to Crosscare for help, some people have lost their jobs, others are in debt and some can’t afford to pay for food because their rent has jumped and is taking the money that would have put food on the table.
“Some people only need a food hamper once or twice because something unexpected has happened in their lives, while other families may need food hampers for a longer period of time.
“It’s frightening to see that so many people are going without food and some of the individuals and parents that we meet are very distressed over the situation.”
Each week the local conferences of St Vincent de Paul distribute vouchers for Crosscare hampers, which are collected on a designated day from the bank in Jobstown.
Alongside distributing the vouchers to families, it comes into contact with, SVP also supports hundreds of local families each week by providing supermarket vouchers and food parcels to those struggling to feed themselves.
Liam added: “In my opinion there are more and more people looking for help. The demand is getting higher and we would appeal to local businesses to support us.
“We get a food delivery every week from Crosscare but we rely heavily on local donations and any business looking to do a food drive in their place of work or support us in anyway would be greatly appreciated.
“It’s hard for people to realise the extent of the problem. In this day and age families going hungry is not something most would think is happening on a large scale – but it is.
“The families who get a hamper are so grateful for the food and are amazed and delighted by having what a lot of us take for granted in their kitchen presses.
“Crosscare treats everybody who comes through its door with respect and dignity and we would love for the local business community to help us continue our work and support more local families.”
Crosscare, which is the social support agency of the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin, also links vulnerable people or those in need of additional support into local services and projects.
Any person in need of support from the food bank is invited to contact their local SVP branch, call the Crosscare head office on 8550022 or leave a letter in their local parish office by 11am each Tuesday.
SVP collects the letters and arranges to visit families.
Any business or local project that is interested in organising a food drive for Crosscare is encouraged to call 4626564.
All food collected locally goes directly to the Jobstown food bank and is distributed to Tallaght families from Jobstown and its neighbouring areas right across to Firhouse.