Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A food bank is set to open in Boyle in the next week to help those going without meals because of the burden of financial commitments. A recent meeting in the town attracted a number of people interested in helping with the distribution of food to hard pressed families. Boyle man Tony Scanlon has joined forces with the Family Resource Centre in a bid to ensure that any families needing food can avail of it. It is hoped that within the coming weeks that food will be made available on two days a week for children, families and individuals who through a shortage of money are being forced to go without food. Mr Scanlon, who set up a Facebook page “Poverty and Homelessness” last month to establish the level of need in the region, said he had no doubt that people were going without meals because of the burden of other financial commitments. Previous foodstuff distributions from the Family Resource Centre has yielded a database of hundreds of people in need of food, but Tony believes that the number would now be far greater. “There are people who would previously have received food through the the European Fund for Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) and now we will look after those people as well as those who are not in receipt of welfare. We want to ensure that there is food available for anyone who needs it; not just those in receipt of social welfare. The reality is that changing lifestyles has resulted in people unable to put food on the table. We’re encountering families where one of the parents has lost their job but the big mortgage still needs to be paid, raising insurance costs etc. and by the time those bills are paid there is a real struggle to put food on the table,” he said. Mr Scanlon said zero hours contracts and illness were factors for some people. Since plans for the food bank were revealed in the Roscommon Herald two weeks ago, Mr Scanlon has received numerous calls from people throughout County Roscommon. He has already been contacted by one woman who, after the expenses associated with a cancer diagnosis and treatment, is managing to feed two adults and two children on €30 a week. “I did the sums and it works out at 60 cent a meal.” Another woman who contacted him seeking food said that she felt “ashamed” to have to seek help in this way. “This woman said that she felt she had no other option because there is nothing in her cupboards. Like so many others who have contacted us, she said that to the outside world people would assume that there was no shortage of food in her home. She said that she was being put to the pin of her collar to make ends meet and in the end this meant virtually no money left for food,” he explained. It is hoped that the food will be administered by the Family Life Centre through Foodcloud, a company which uses technology to link retailers holding excess food with charities and though the FEAD scheme. “We want to ensure that anyone who needs food can have it, there is no criteria for who is and isn’t entitled to it. It is nothing to be ashamed about but for people they can feel a sense of embarrassment. We are here to help and I am heartened by the amount of people who want to volunteer. Research shows that very few of us are more than three pay cheques away from experiencing food poverty. That’s a very slim cushion between having food and going without and this cushion becomes even more frail and wafer like if used to support a notion of waged employment being superior to welfare,” he said.

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