CORK Penny Dinners co-ordinator Caitríona Twomey said the gratitude they received from people for Christmas dinner just highlights the level of need in Cork.
The group supplied around 700 dinners on Christmas Day, between people who came to their premises, deliveries and meals provided on the street.
“We got some lovely phone calls saying that we saved Christmas for them,” Ms Twomey told The Echo.
“It shows how hard times are for them. Some of the kids who are staying in the hotels came in to thank us for the beautiful dinners.
"They told us how good it was to have a Christmas dinner, which made all the difference.”
Ms Twomey said the main aim was to make sure nobody went hungry.
“We had a couple of grandparents calling for their children and grandchildren saying they didn’t have enough food,” she said. “They didn’t have enough to give them either.
"These are hard stories.
"We held it together and we got there which is the main thing. It is nice to help out and to make sure nobody went hungry. It was very evident this year to see the relief on people’s faces to have Christmas Day. It is the one day in the year you have to have.”
Penny Dinners also provided dozens of dinners for people on the streets on Christmas night.
“We delivered 60 dinners at nighttime to people on the streets,” she said. “Only for it, those people would have nothing at all. It was lovely. Everybody appreciated it so much. They couldn’t thank us enough. It is so tough for the people. It is much more than we would have seen in recent years. The number of deliveries that we had to do was quite a lot. The level of poverty for both families and individuals is increasing all the time. It needs to be addressed as there is a great divide now. The government hasn’t any other choice.”
Ms Twomey praised the Penny Dinners team and the help they received: “The staff were brilliant. They worked around the clock. We had a mighty crew on the road to make sure we got to everyone. When we were delivering the hampers we had the gardaí from Blackrock, Gurranabraher, Anglesea St, and Mayfield, the ex-servicemen from the army and the navy, Cork city Missing Persons Search and Recovery. All their vehicles were out. We had our own drivers. It was a huge team effort.”