MORE than two tonnes of food was collected by Causeway Food Bank volunteers last weekend.
In a special feature this week, The Coleraine Times went behind the scenes at the Vineyard to find out how the operation works.
A special drive last weekend saw 2,220.5 kilos of food being donated at Tesco stores in Coleraine and Portstewart.
Melanie Gibson, Causeway Food Bank’s manager told The Times that volunteers were overwhelmed by the response. “ I think people really understand the need that there is out there now. This food has now been processed through our warehouse and is ready to be picked for those in need.”
Food packs are designed to help people in a time of need, change or crisis. They are tailored to the needs of the individual and include three days worth of food - breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“We work with around 60 agencies - they refer people to the food bank, these are organisations like the Simon Community, health visitors, social workers, the Citizens Advice Bureau, Surestart and Women’s Aid - workers who are out in the communtiy and can see that people are in need,” explained Melanie.
“As authorised voucher distributors they hand out vouchers which can then be redemmed for food parcels.
“We keep track of who’s been using their vouchers and this information then goes back to the agencies.”
Since its inception the Causeway Food Bank has helped over 650 people in the Coleraine area. Melanie says that demand is increasing: “I think it’s a combination of things - the recession, the rising cost of food and fuel, and people not knowing where to turn for help.
“As the seventh richest nation in the world this shouldn’t be happening - it’s an injustice in our own community. I believe that the response from the food drive last weekend just shows that the community wants to tackle poverty.”
Melanie added: “The team here is motivated by faith. No child should go hungry in our community.
“Worryingly, a recent survey revealed that one in five mums skip a meal so that their child can eat.
“The Bible says ‘For I was hungry and you fed me’ and that’s what Causeway Food Bank is all about. Not only do we provide food, we also provide a listening ear, and we can sign post those in need to other organisations to help them get back on their feet again.”