Monday 23 October 2017

Parishioners create a food mountain after help plea

Senior Manager Michael McDonagh in one of the squash courts at the Crosscare food bank in Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren
Senior Manager Michael McDonagh in one of the squash courts at the Crosscare food bank in Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

FOOD has been stacked to the rafters after the faithful answered an urgent plea by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to help feed the hungry.

Such has been the phenomenal response to the archbishop's plea last month that volunteers at the Crosscare food bank in Dublin have had to convert two squash courts into makeshift storage areas to store non-perishable food items.

"The response has been phenomenal," Michael McDonagh, senior manager of food provision for the charity, told the Irish Independent.

The head of the Dublin archdiocese urged parishioners last month to donate to the archdiocese's social care agency because it was rapidly running out of supplies as it struggled to meet the unprecedented demand.


People caught up in the recession are increasingly finding it hard to feed their families and are having to make choices between heating their homes this winter or eating three meals a day, he said.

But since Dr Martin appealed to all 199 churches in the archdiocese, the charity has been collecting truckloads of food from 90 churches with food weighing in at more than 15 tonnes collected in just four days.

"In a year we collect about 500 tonnes of food so to get 15 tonnes in four days is incredible," he said.

A team of 45 volunteers operating out of three vans have been working non-stop since Dr Martin's call for donations was reiterated at Mass last Sunday.


So much food -- in the form of tinned goods, staples such as flour and sugar and other necessities -- has been donated that volunteers' cars are weighed down with the sheer volume, he said.

And space is in short supply at the food bank for the first time since it was established in 1989, he added.

"It's a hoarders' dream or a food bank manager's nightmare," he joked. "But it just shows there's so much goodwill out there despite the recession."

The food will now be distributed by Crosscare to charities across the archdiocese, including St Vincent de Paul, in the lead-up to Christmas as families struggle to make ends meet, he added.

"We'll be working with all the local charities in every area to make sure the food goes to those most in need," he said.

Donations reached a crisis point in mid-November when the food bank received requests for food from 120 people in one community alone but was only able to give out parcels to 40 of them.

Irish Independent

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