Foodbanks are spreading slowing across County Down. These organisations disperse charitable donations of food given to them from the public to ease the pressures that an increasing amount of people are now facing.
Downpatrick Presbyterian Church Minister Owen Patterson explained that he was delighted at the level of interest in setting up a food bank in Downpatrick. He said: “It emerged from the County Down Rural Community Network expressing that there was a need for this service in our area. I was glad to see representatives from all the local churches present at the meeting in the church hall.[caption id="attachment_55081" align="alignleft" width="390"] Some of the participants are the foodbank meeting in the Presbyterian Church in Downpatrick.[/caption]
“It is amazing that the stereotypical pers0n down and out is no more. People from all walks of life are experiencing hardship on often very difficult circumstances. For example, a person may have had a big house and an expensive car but experienced a bankruptcy and be literally destitute, or they may be someone struggling between benefit changes. Very often today people have to make the choice between heating and eating all too often and life can be very challenging with little comfort.”
Shirley Lennon, organiser of the meeting, explained: “We’re very happy at the attendance at this meeting. Over forty volunteers turned up and we have many more who have expressed their interest. This is great as the workload will be spread more evenly. We will call it the Fountain Food Bank.
“We had a meeting with a number of key organisations and churches before Christmas to set things up and last night was really about bringing it all forward into action. Basically it will run under the Presbyterian Church who will provide the lead for this initiative and it will be supported by the other churches. We have excellent space in our hall and storage and kitchen facilities.
“The church hall is in a good central location off the main road and this is also a benefit. To date we have asked church members to donate food to various organisations and this has worked reasonably well. We have been talking to the organisers of the food banks in Newcastle and Ballynahinch and plan to run on a similar model as them in delivering this much needed service. They have been in operation for 4-5 years now and are much appreciated within their communities.
“This is about putting faith into action. We will be working with a number of churches and agencies and many of our needy users will be referred to us from these bodies.”