Figures released by the Causeway Foodbank have revealed that there was a 74 percent increase in the use of their service last year.
In 2015 the charity, run in partnership with local churches, and led by Vineyard Compassion, provided almost 14,000 meals to those in need throughout the Causeway area.
In 2014 the team provided just over 7,000 meals to individuals and families in need.
We spoke to Foodbank Manager Melanie Gibson, who revealed that their volunteers distributed around 18 tonnes of food in 2015.
Melanie said that there are a ‘number of different factors’ that have contributed to the increase in the use of Causeway Foodbank in 2015.
She revealed that the centre are now more accessible to those from across the Causeway Council area, who find themselves in a crisis situation.
She said: “We have increased our number of frontline care professionals within the community who hold foodbank vouchers with now over 140 agencies involved.
“Through our local supermarket partnerships with Tesco, Sainsburys and Co-Op, the local community are more aware that there is a foodbank service within the community.
“We now also have three distribution centres with the Causeway Coast and Glens area in Coleraine, Portstewart and Ballycastle.
“These centres help the foodbank be more accessible for people who find themselves in a crisis or emergency situation,” she explained.
Causeway Foodbank, which is part of The Trussell Trust network, could not operate without their team of volunteers.
Melanie reveals that it takes around 80 volunteers to operate the much needed service.
“We have an incredible team of amazing volunteers who give their time to the helping the local community in our distribution centres, in the warehouse sorting food donations, in the office, in the community, and as part of our supermarket collection team.
“There are around 80 volunteers who make what we do at Causeway Foodbank possible, and they give of their time, their food and their funds to be a community who are willing to help their hungry neighbours and stand in the gap for those most in need.”
Melanie said that now more than ever donations are vital to keep the service going.
So how can you get involved?
*Donate some non perishable long life food items
*Contribute financially - £5 a month can provide an emergency food back for one person (breakfast, lunch and dinner for three days)
*Donate some time volunteering - contact the Causeway Foodbank Manager on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 028 70220005 ext 5
“We would love to chat with you,” said Melanie. “Any donation will be put to good use.”
Foodbank Centres are open at the Vineyard, Hillmans Way, Coleraine: Tuesday 7pm-8pm, Wednesday 11.30am-12.30pm, Friday 12pm-1pm
The Ballycastle Centre: Thyme & Co Cafe, 5 Quay Road, Ballycastle, BT54 6BJ: Wednesday 7pm-8pm
The Portstewart Centre: Portstewart Baptist Church, 172-174 Coleraine Road, Portstewart: Thursday 11am-12noon