herald

Friday 2 December 2016

The need for food banks in Dublin is 'now worse than 1980s'

finances

Valerie Cummins and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin
Valerie Cummins and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin

Demand for food banks in Dublin is more common now than it was in the late 1980s, food distribution centre Crosscare has said.

Manager Valerie Cummins told the Herald that "the need is great" and many more families have been experiencing food poverty in recent times.

"We're here since 1989 and it's worse now than it was then," she said.

Her comments come on the back of a survey that showed a third of families with young children worry about their food budget.

Hungry

One in five adults has admitted they are concerned about the amount of money they have to spend on food.

One third of families with primary school children said they regularly feel financial pressure over stocking the fridge and cupboards.

Teachers are the first to notice children are arriving to school hungry. A total of 77pc of primary school teachers said they were concerned that more and more children are arriving in school without having had breakfast.

More than 200 teachers said some children were arriving hungry at least once a week.

The "Is the Food Divide Getting Bigger?" survey by Kellogg's questioned more than 3,000 adults in Ireland plus 408 teachers.

More than 40pc of all respondents said breakfast was regularly skipped due to low finances and little food.

The figures recorded are "likely to be slightly higher" as it did not include homeless people, members of the Travelling community, people in institutions or asylum-seekers.

Ms Cummins agreed with the findings and said there were more families in need than Crosscare could ever reach.

"There's a big increase. We could give out 10 times more than what we're currently able to give out," she said. "If we help 40 families in a certain area, there are easily 80 families that need help. If we had more stock we could help more numbers."

The food poverty rate among low-income households reached an 11pc high, the study revealed, while 4pc of high-income earners said food poverty was an issue.

Ms Cummins said the people seeking help were from "all walks of life".

"There are people trying to keep a roof over their head and just don't have money at the end of the week for food," she said.

Parcels

The need is so great that families are arriving at the main distribution centre seeking food parcels.

Ms Cummins said that over the past 12 months Crosscare's services have increased despite claims of economic recovery.

"That hasn't resonated with us. Time will tell," she said. "They're saying the economy is coming back, but at what cost for people? They're probably paying their mortgage and bills, but are they eating at the end of the day?"

The charity will soon leave its depot in Portland Row for a bigger premises in Glasnevin to facilitate the demand.

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