FOOD banks in Naas and Newbridge remain very busy despite talk of a national economic recovery.
Fergal McCarthy who runs the Church on Main Street in Naas and Catherine O’Donoghue who is a committee member for the Dining Room in Newbridge both say that number availing of their services have been constant for several months.
The Dining Room in Newbridge started out in the parish centre in the town a few weeks before Christmas before moving their service onto the Main Street outside the town hall in Newbridge on 13 January last. In February the service was expanded to two nights, Wednesday and Friday to cater to those in need.
Ms O’Donoghue told the Kildare Nationalist that since they became established on the Main Street numbers seeking food have been consistent.
She explained that originally the Dining Room was providing food to three our four people a week. That they grew to 15 and then 40.
“Now we provide food to between 55 and 60 each night. Our numbers have stabilised at that. We start at 7.45pm each night and finish at 10p and last Friday night we ran out of food early,” said Ms O’Donoghue.
In addition to giving out hot food The Dining Room also offers those in need other day-to-day items.
“In addition to hot food we also give out food to take home, clothes and toiletries. We have approximately 20 volunteers who serve the food and approximately eight or nine people who cook for us. There are four committee members and each night we ensure that at least one committee member is present.”
Fergal McCarty said the number of people who are given a hamper of food each week by The Church on Main Street has remained constant for some time.
“We do around 100 hampers each week so there is still a need. I would have thought that this number would have started falling but it hasn’t. It would seem that any recovery that is in the economy will reach the people who are coming to us last. It also seems that a recovery for these people is still a long way off. In fact we are getting calls for help from places as far away as Celbridge in North Kildare and Athy at the other end of the county so a lot of people still want our help.”
The Church on Main Street receive donations from a number of sources.
“We get donations from the public and we are also involved with the Bia Food Cloud who take in food from companies such as Tesco. Local businesses have also been generous to us such as Lawlor’s Hotel who bake bread for us each week. Our motto is that we help the Hidden Hungry and since we set up in 2013 we have consistently been giving food to 90 to 100 people each week.”
The food bank takes place each Tuesday morning. “The food bank is open between 10.30am and 11.30am each Tuesday morning and people can just drop in. The hampers, which contain perishable and non perishable food, are made up by our volunteers and before they take away their hamper the people who come to us can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and a chat before they go on their way. If someone who we haven’t met before comes into us and tells us they are in need we will generally give them something on the first week. However, we ask that if they come back that they bring something such as social welfare documentation as a form of proof that they are in need. We do this as we have to be careful that we aren’t taken advantage of.”
Meanwhile Lidl Ireland has committed to donate one million meals to Irish charities by 2020 in conjunction with FoodCloud. With one in eight people in Ireland experiencing food poverty, Lidl say that this partnership will see all 152 Lidl stores and three warehouses in Ireland partnered with hundreds of local charities who will benefit from the store’s surplus food. One of the charities set to benefit from the partnership in Kildare includes Cheshire Ireland.
Lidl say that the redistribution of surplus food allows charities to relocate funding, that would otherwise have been spent on food, towards their core service and support their underlying mission. This redistribution allows Lidl to contribute to local communities while also reducing the worldwide statistic that 30% of food produced is going to waste.
Anyone who would like to donate to The Dining Room Newbridge can do so at their credit union account number. 44404. They also have a Facebook page The Dining Room – Newbridge if anyone wishes to contact themto make a donation, to volunteer or to avail of their service.