Letterkenny’s foodbank has seen its biggest rise in demand in three years.
Fintan McGrath, Public Relations Officer with We Care Foodbank, has said the current situation is “overwhelming”, revealing in just one day last week the registered charity saw an extra 31 people who were seeking help for the first time.
Speaking to the Donegal News, Mr McGrath said he expected the situation to worsen as the cost of living crisis deepened. There has been a surge in both the number of refugees and local people seeking help.
“We have seen a huge increase in the number of refugees coming to the foodbank, not just Ukrainian refugees but those from North Africa, Morocco, the Middle East and all over Europe. We weren’t notified by any government organisation that we would see this increase in demand. With back to school costs, the rising cost of living and winter, we only expect things to worsen.”
Mr McGrath said the charity will provide for anyone who crosses its door, and will never turn anyone in need away. But he admitted, these are difficult times.
“The last few weeks have been the busiest in the food bank in my tenure. It is the worst I have seen it. I have been PRO for three years or slightly more. One day last week we had 31 new people coming to the door for food. In my time I have never seen it as bad. We are seeing a big increase.”
He said the charity needs the immediate help of the public as food supplies dwindle.
“As our demand heightens, our food donation supplies are down. At one stage, we were at rock bottom in terms of supplies. Our situation is very overwhelming at the minute. Every three months we go to Dublin for two pallets of food including weetabix, coffee and other essentials but can’t get an increase for the rest of the year.
“We are appealing to the public to help us out with food or cash donations. We have very little in terms of frozen food. That is down significantly. I don’t know whether it is to do with Brexit, but our frozen goods is at a fraction of what it used to be.
“We are appealing to the public to donate non-perishable foods or cash donations so that we can purchase the food at best cost price and value.”
Mr McGrath said We Care Foodbank will also be holding a major food drive in September/October.
“We’re managing to get people what they need but we need the public’s help to sustain. During the course of September and October we will be having a big food donation drive because we are also looking ahead and we need to get our stock up for Halloween and Christmas.”
We Care Food Bank is located in Market Square, Letterkenny. It opens on Tuesdays and Fridays from 12pm to 2pm.
The cost of living crisis was raised by Deputy Thomas Pringle in a Dáil summer debate in July.
“I know of at least three food banks in my constituency in Donegal. That is a sad reflection on the government. There are food banks all around the country. This is supposedly one of the richest countries in the world, as has been mentioned in the House. How can we expect citizens to rely on food banks to feed their families? It is a sad reflection on us and we should all be embarrassed about that.”