Emergency depots set up to donate to NI food bank during Coronavirus crisis

Emergency drop off points have been identified for donations to Craigavon Area Food Bank as demand is expected to soar due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Thursday, 19th March 2020, 10:06 am

The food bank, which has seen demand rise significantly over the past five years, is expected to come under increased pressure in the next few months.

The foodbank caters for the poorest and most vulnerable in our community, more than 4,000 people in this area alone have been availing of its services - 2,483 adults and 1,597 children.

Those numbers are expected to rocket as the Covid-19 virus escalates and more people lose their incomes.

Stocks are depleted at the Antioch Store House Food Bank in Molesworth Street, Cookstown. INMM0214-124ar.
Stocks are depleted at the Antioch Store House Food Bank in Molesworth Street, Cookstown. INMM0214-124ar.

Chris Leech, who runs the Craigavon Area Food Bank (CAFB) said: “It is a very difficult time for many of us, with unprecedented amounts of people facing pay cuts and redundancy.

“The Food Bank hopes to play its part in helping those in most need at this time, with the provision of emergency food parcels.

“We are currently reviewing our processes so that we can continue to provide a service for as long as possible in the changeable circumstances that we all find ourselves in.

He added: “CAFB has a proven system for the receipt, storage and distribution of emergency food to the public. We are working closely with our national network, run by the Trussell Trust to ensure that our service remain operation for as long as possible.”

Chris, who is also a local pastor, said normally people who require the food bank services are referred to them via their GP or local social services.

“As people lose their jobs there is always a lag of at least a few weeks until they get benefits and money. We are here to fill that space and help those who are in crisis.

He said there were a number of ways people can help.

Firstly they would like people to donate non-perishable foods and toiletries. “It is the intention of Craigavon Area Food Bank to setup Food Drop-off Points in Lurgan and Portadown. We welcome all non-perishable food and toiletry donations from the public and businesses.”

The kinds of items required include: tinned Meats, tinned Fruit, UHT milk, tinned Vegetables, tinned tomatoes, tinned desserts, pasta sauces, pasta, rice, cereals, soup. All toiletries, including nappies and baby wipes are also very welcome.

Chris said for logistical reasons during the current crisis, they will be opening two new drop off centres in the Emmanuel Church in Portadown’s High St Mall: Friday, March 20, 10am to 12pm; Saturday, March 21, 10am to 12pm; Monday, March 23, 2pm to 4pm and Lurgan’s Emmanuel Church on Friday, March 20, 10am to 12pm; Saturday, March 21, 10am to 12pm; Monday, March 23, 2pm to 4pm

All Drop Inn Ministries shops in Lurgan, Portadown, Richhill and Armagh will be receiving Food Bank donations, which will then be transported to the central warehouse. Donations can be left into these stores from 10am to 4pm Monday to Saturday until further notice.

The Craigavon Foodbank is a charity and exists with the help of public donations.

“If you would like to donate financially at this time, you can do so in person at our collection points in Emmanuel or via our online giving site, which will be posted on our Facebook page in the next few days,” Chris said.

“Our intention would be to have the following locations open to receive food donations. Due to the current uncertainties, we will be releasing additional dates via social media on our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/CraigavonAreaFoodBank/”