Feed Cork has reported a huge surge in the need for its food bank in recent months and are expecting exceptionally high demand in the coming weeks and month, its Director Hamp Sirmans has said.
January and February are “pinch points” in the year, he told The Echo.
“There’s a rise in heating costs, in electric costs, and so we would find the numbers availing of the food bank going up," he said. "They did this week, and will next week.
"The next two or three months – people are paying off Christmas debt and unfortunately they avail of these high interest loans from loan sharks. We’re also supporting families that are working that are finding it very difficult."
Feed Cork is a volunteer led initiative of Cork Church in Lower Oliver Plunkett Street, and partners with local agencies and businesses to help fight food poverty in Cork. The group supplies a four-day care package of nutritious food for individuals and families in need.
From opening in May 2017 up to this year, Feed Cork supplied over 1.5 million meals to over 4,000 families in Cork, representing about 50,000 food baskets worth over €100 each.
Mr Sirmans said recent times have been the most challenging, with a huge surge in the need for food baskets.
“We’ve been overwhelmed this year with people accessing the food bank, between the cost-of-living crisis, and we’ve also been helping with Ukrainian refugees," he said.
"We’ve doubled the amount of people who have registered with us in the past year."
Mr Sirmans is appealing for more donations during the difficult first few months of 2023.
“We have 2,200 people registered," he said. "That’s roughly 1,750 families and the rest are individuals. So we’re supporting upwards of 4,500 to 5,000 people in total.”
Last year, they supplied about half a million meals, or 208,000 kilos of food, to people in Cork.
“We would be doing anything from 150 to 180 food baskets every week, and that’s not even bringing in the numbers from Drimoleague. We also support Bandon with a food bank,” he said.
“During what is likely to be the most challenging winter Feed Cork has ever faced, please help make sure we can be there for everyone who needs us. The soaring cost of living means more and more people are being forced to use food banks. This is an emergency.”
Donations to Feed Cork, a registered charity, can be made at gofundme.com by searching for Cost Of Living Crisis Fund. So far, €3,518 has been raised of a €50,000 goal.