Wednesday 24 August 2016

What happens in Ireland if you have no food?

Caitríona Redmond

Published 20/03/2014 | 08:43

Some supermarkets douse their food waste in disinfectant to put off “dumpster diving”
Some supermarkets douse their food waste in disinfectant to put off “dumpster diving”

I was all geared up to write about buns, cupcakes and fairycakes. Honestly. I even had photographs ready to go and then something stopped me in my tracks.

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Namely the BBC programme for Sports Relief that aired on Wednesday and Thursday nights last week, called “Famous, Rich And Hungry”follow and then that got me thinking. What would happen if I had no food left in my house today?

Before anybody gets concerned I have food, but there are plenty of people in Irish society who don’t, as much as 10% apparently.

I live in Dublin, but it’s a good bit out of the city centre.  A return public transport ticket to the city centre where I would be able to look for help in somewhere like the Capuchin Day Mission would cost me about €10-€11. If I had that much I wouldn’t be stuck for food because I’d manage to feed the family for a few days.

This weekend was a bank holiday so if somebody were to be stuck without food today, what services were available to them for the three days?

I could look to my local Community Welfare Officer for emergency assistance. Sort of. By some glitch of forward planning, the CWO for my area is actually on North Cumberland Street in Dublin City Centre. We’re back to this return trip on public transport costing at least €10 for one adult.

I could contact the St Vincent de Paul and ask them for help. They may be able to send somebody out at short notice, or assist in the form of groceries or grocery vouchers.

I could wait until the darkness falls and skulk around a few local supermarkets to see if I can find decent food in their bins. Some supermarkets douses their food waste in disinfectant to put off “dumpster diving” and they all employ security guards.

I could go to my local Citizen’s Information Centre and ask for them to refer me for help, or to my local Health Centre and ask for the PHN to refer me for help.

This is where it differs in Ireland to the UK. In the UK you can go to your Council and be referred to a food bank if you are in need. There is a defined route that you can take for help.  Here it’s a little foggier.

Do you think that a proper food bank structure is needed in Ireland, and a set way to get access to assistance?  I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Please Note: This post is based on my personal knowledge and experience. If anybody has any further information to add please do comment below.  I am not criticising the fantastic service that Crosscare & the St Vincent de Paul do in the slightest, in fact I feel that if they weren’t there, Irish society would be in a far worse position.


Caitríona Redmond  writes the popular food blog Wholesome Ireland, where this post originally appeared.  Her first book will be published by Mercier Press in April 2014.

Follow her at @wholesomeIE

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