Drive to help NI food banks as crisis referrals soar

Pictured with the Craigavon area Foodbank donations trolley at Asda, Portadown, are from left, Angela Belshaw and Angela McVeigh, Craigavon Area Foodbank volunteers, Asda Community Champion, Elaine Livingstone, Philomena Dale, customer, (Portadown), and Martin Stevenson, Craigavon Area Foodbank manager.
Pictured with the Craigavon area Foodbank donations trolley at Asda, Portadown, are from left, Angela Belshaw and Angela McVeigh, Craigavon Area Foodbank volunteers, Asda Community Champion, Elaine Livingstone, Philomena Dale, customer, (Portadown), and Martin Stevenson, Craigavon Area Foodbank manager.

As the need for Craigavon Food Bank soars in summer, staff at a local supermarket have launched an extra drive to get donations.

During summer, as children are off school and unable to access school meals, the need for the food bank rises and staff at Asda have stepped up to help.

“The support has been vital in making sure we have enough food for every local person referred to the food bank.”

Martin Stevenson, Foodbank manager

The Asda staff has teamed up with Craigavon Area Foodbank, which is a member of the Trussell Trust network, to launch a drive for food donations at the store, as part of nationwide activity by the supermarket chain.

To help some families who are struggling to manage costs, shoppers will be able to donate much-needed supplies when they are doing their shopping at dedicated instore collection points, which will go directly to Craigavon Area Foodbank.

The food bank has two main centres - one in Lurgan’s Hope Centre and another in Portadown above Chimes Coffee Shop. Between 1st July 2018 and 30th June 2019, the food bank supported 3,605 local people in crisis in the Craigavon area.

Martin Stevenson, of the Craigavon Area Foodbank, said: “The support of Asda and other local groups, such as churches and schools,has been vital in making sure we have enough food for every local person referred to the food bank.

“We are very grateful for the generosity of people who donate food across the area,” he said.

“We also try to help tackle the underlying causes of poverty in our community and signpost people to local services that address those issues to help prevent the need for another food bank referral,” said Mr Stevenson.

Locally, the initiative is being led by Asda’s instore community colleagues who have been working closely with their local food banks to ensure they receive donations of the items that make the most difference.

Elaine Livingstone, Asda Portadown Community Champion, said: “Our customers and colleagues are always very generous, and we’re really pleased to be getting behind the Asda Fight Hunger Create Change campaign, which will make a difference on a very local level as well as on bigger scale across the country.

“We always have food collection points instore, but over the next few weeks we’re really trying to increase the level of donations as we go into the summer holidays, when sadly food bank referrals do tend to increase.”