A TOTAL of 100 families in the city are relying on regular food packages from a new community-based partnership.
Chairman of Blackpool Community Centre, Bill Dunlea, has been working with Food Cloud in Dublin - a non-profit organisation redistributing leftover food from businesses to charities - to accommodate poverty stricken families in the area.
Mr Dunlea, along with other committee members, set up a database to alert families in need when deliveries arrive. Supplies, which are delivered to the centre four times a week, include everyday staple items such as bread, fish and meat.
“We currently have a committee of eight who make this all possible,” Mr Dunlea said.
“We started offering food six months ago and in that time the number of recipients has grown dramatically. At one stage I thought we might be helping around 30 or 40 families but was stunned to realise that number was actually 100.
"The poverty we've seen has been absolutely shocking. So many people are in debt that it's frightening. At the moment we have 100 families on our list but we could probably serve twice that number if we had the means. It's hard to believe the extent of poverty in the area. There is so much talk of the recession lifting, but the ordinary 'Joe Soap' is still suffering. I can't see the hardship ending anytime soon.”
The Food Cloud works directly with businesses such as Tesco and Aldi to help various charities. Nonetheless, Mr Dunlea is also urging local businesses to get on board.
“We would never refuse food,” he said. “It would be great to see other local businesses get involved.”
He stressed the importance of confidentiality adding:
"This is a confidential service. For us privacy is paramount."
South-West region Vice-President of the St Vincent de PaulSociety, Brendan Dempsey initially introduced Mr Dunlea to the organisation.
“The organisation have been very easy to deal with. To date, there have been no hiccups. Deliveries normally arrive around four times a week. We are also very grateful to Cross refrigeration on the Old Mallow Road who provided us with a fridge for storage.”
Those hoping to avail of food packages can visit Blackpool Community Centre. Business owners willing to donate food are asked to call the centre in advance on (021) 4501787.
It is estimated that the social enterprise FoodCloud, formerly known as the Bia Food Initiative, will see 4,000 tonnes of food being saved from going to waste in Ireland throughout 2017.