FEED Cork recently established a new food hub in Bandon, which has seen a steady increase in clients throughout West Cork receiving food parcels on a weekly basis.
The food hub was initiated in Bandon five weeks ago due to growing demand from people and families in West Cork. 18 food hampers were provided for the first week. This has subsequently increased to 40 hampers per week, a worrying reflection on the growing distress amongst families in modern society.
Adele Corke is one of the volunteers with the new food hub in Bandon.
“We were talking about it for a long time, but the building we had earmarked fell through in March because of Covid-19. We have now sorted a room in the Town Hall which is great. It is very central and convenient. We have a good team here in Bandon all keen to help out.
"There is also a car park at the rear which ensures it is discreet, as some people don’t want to be seen coming in or out looking for help. It is a very easy process. People drive up in their car and they meet the volunteers who pop in enough food for three or four days, before heading home again,” she said.
Ms Corke said they have enjoyed a very brisk start since they opened up the food hub five weeks ago. Bandon provides a very central hub for families from all over West Cork, who had previously been travelling to the city for food donations.
“It is busy so far. In our first week, we gave out 18 baskets of food, between individuals and families. At present we have 40 individuals or families coming to us each week.
“We are serving vulnerable people all over West Cork. We have people coming from Skibbereen, Dunmanway and Clonakilty. The reason we set up in Bandon was that we were noticing more people travelling up to the city from all parts of West Cork.
"It made sense for us to open a hub in West Cork to meet the growing demands. If there are more people out there, we will do our best to help them. We provide good healthy food such as fruit, potatoes, pasta, cereals and tea bags. It is a three or four day supply just to bridge a gap and take the pressure off.”
People of all ages are benefitting from the establishment of the food hub in Bandon which is open for one hour every Thursday afternoon, between 3 and 4pm. Once people touch base with the hub or volunteers, discretion is assured and no questions are asked said Adele.
“We help people of all ages. It is evident a lot of people are struggling for a variety of reasons. Young families, elderly people, families who have had their sons and daughters move back home due to job losses and mortgage trouble and single-parent families would be all requiring food donations.
"We don’t ask questions. Discretion is so important for us and we are not judgemental. It is none of our business. Nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors and what anyone is going through. People are welcome to come from anywhere in the county.
"People can message us through Facebook and we arrange a time for the pick up to take place. We set up an appointment and we don’t take any further details,” she added.
The food hub is generally reliant on the food parcels from Food Cloud and local donations. Adele added: “It is a real eye-opener. It makes you so aware of how fortunate and blessed we are. Once we have food on the table and we have our health, they are the main things in life.
"Sadly there is a huge and growing demand for food hubs, however. A big pull for me getting involved with food hubs is knowing that some kids are going without. In the city, they do an after school weekend programme where they send food home with the kids for the weekend. It is a much bigger operation in Cork city. We would be looking after 200 families a week. The more families we can help the better.”
“People just need help. Sometimes they might only need it for a few weeks or months, just enough to get themselves out of a predicament. Other people might need help for a longer period of time. We are here to help. People are under pressure with bills and job losses.
"Anyone can find themselves in a bad position. We are helping people of all ages and all stages of life. No-one is turned away. People can come and get help without questions being asked,” she added.