More than 100 families being fed through new SVP food bank
By Mary Dennehy
MORE than 100 families and individuals are being fed weekly through a newly opened SVP food bank in Cherry Orchard, with similar projects being established in Tallaght, Clondalkin and Ballyfermot to support the growing number of people living in food poverty.
The introduction of St Vincent De Paul (SVP) food banks is a sad reminder that food poverty exists and is on the rise in many communities, despite the issue being blanketed over by messages of Ireland’s ‘recovery’.
The charity opened the Cherry Orchard food bank last month, and already has 100 families and individuals visiting each Friday to collect a bag of shopping basics worth around €40.
Four pallets packed with food products such as rice, pasta, soups, sauces, cereals, tea and sugar, are delivered to the Cherry Orchard Community Centre each week, with the stock redirected to SVP by the Department of Social Protection, from EU surplus food.
Shopping bags are pre-packed with items ready for the Friday collection, with families and individuals invited to drop into the centre for tea and sandwiches before collecting their food.
Marie Cronin, SVP, told The Echo: “We try to do it as dignified as possible.
“We don’t have a queuing system and Dublin City Council has been very supportive and very kindly given us the use of their kitchen so that people can have a cup of tea or coffee and a sandwich while waiting to collect their food.”
She added: “SVP is establishing food banks in communities for the simple reason that the need for food is so great.
“Food poverty does exist and we have noticed an increase in the number of children going to school hungry.
“If we can provide food, then hopefully we can relieve some of the pressure on families when it comes to other expenses like paying bills.”
Ms Cronin added that due to the demand for food in communities, the charity is working on opening food banks in Ballyfermot, Clondalkin and Tallaght in the new year – with plans also in the pipeline to include the area of Balgaddy in Lucan.
“Families are going hungry, but the Government is ignoring the fact,” Ms Cronin said.
“There is absolutely no give-up for many families and that’s what we can’t understand . . . the situation for people living in some of the poorer areas is still as bad.”
She added: “There has also been an increase in demand for support at Christmas, and we’ve noticed this year that more people are looking for help with food than toys.
“We also have a lot of families and individuals coming to us instead of loan sharks, which we welcome.”
Locally, SVP estimates that it will support close to 6,500 households in Tallaght, Clondalkin, Lucan and Ballyfermot – a figure which Ms Cronin describes as “conservative”.
A rough break-down of the figures will see 2,000 households supported by SVP in Tallaght, 1,500 in Clondalkin, 1,200 in Cherry Orchard, 1,200 in Ballyfermot and around 300 in Balgaddy, south Lucan.
“There has been increased demand everywhere this year”, Ms Cronin said.
“We also have a lot of families living in hotels and modular homes looking for help, and young people who have had to [leave private rented accommodation] and are back living with their parents.
“Due to overcrowding, these households can’t afford to feed all of the people living in the home.”
Anybody who is in need of food in the Cherry Orchard area is encouraged to contact the SVP head office and they will link families in with the food bank.
People struggling in other areas can also contact the head office or drop into their local parish office, which will put them in touch with the local SVP branch.
People can support SVP this Christmas by donating a gift at the charity’s Giving Tree in the Liffey Valley and Citywest shopping centres, donate through their local church or donate online at www.svp.ie.
Contact SVP head office on 8550022.