Churches join forces to open new food bank

Craigavon Area Food Bank opened their fourth distribution centre, this one in Tandragee. Pictured are Sarah Coulter the Craigavon Area Foodbank Manager along with Rev. Sharon Connor of Tandragee Methodist Church, Rev. Graham Spence of Ballymore Parish and Maurine Blevins of the Tandragee Mission and Evangelism Group. INPT1915-411
Craigavon Area Food Bank opened their fourth distribution centre, this one in Tandragee. Pictured are Sarah Coulter the Craigavon Area Foodbank Manager along with Rev. Sharon Connor of Tandragee Methodist Church, Rev. Graham Spence of Ballymore Parish and Maurine Blevins of the Tandragee Mission and Evangelism Group. INPT1915-411

A food bank has opened in Tandragee in a joint initiative by four local churches.

Ballymore Parish, Tandragee Baptist, Tandragee Presbyterian and Tandragee Methodist have united to help those in need, with assistance from Craigavon Area Food Bank.

The food bank is geared towards those in a crisis situation, and is operated from Tandragee Methodist Church every Thursday evening.

The Rev Sharon Connor, minister of Tandragee Methodist, explained there is an “unbelievable need” in the area.

She explained, “It is quite surprising how many people are in need around here.

“Sometimes people are on low incomes or their circumstances change through no fault of their own, be it marriage break-ups or redundancy.”

The food bank operates on a voucher system, with people referred by health and social services, Citizens’ Advice Bureau, St Vincent de Paul, health centres and church ministers.

Added the Rev Connor, “Once there is a need indicated, we go and carry out an assessment. Normally, there is a maximum of up to five vouchers, hopefully enough to give people time to get back up on their fee again.

“It is a crisis intervention service. Sometimes, people’s benefits are delayed and they are waiting for money to come in.”

Those in need come not just from Tandragee but from areas including Poyntzpass, Lawrencetown, Hamiltonsbawn and Markethill.

The food bank is run by around 20 volunteers from the four churches, among them parishioner Maureen Blevins, who was instrumental in getting the Tandragee branch off the ground.

Maureen had worked for the Craigavon Area Food Bank and had become aware of the need in Tandragee.

Anyone wishing to donate food items can leave them in any of the four churches.