Irish Food,  Opinion

Food Bank

Every now and again I have a browse through the search terms that lead people to my blog.  I have regular readers and supporters but then there are others that find their way through the search engines.

Up until January the majority of searches were for items such as specific dishes or recipes. Slowly since then that has changed. Searches are now for things like coupons, frugal food, how to manage on a budget, how to find a food bank in Ireland and that’s just a very small fraction of the theme.

Yesterday I spotted a press release from the Irish League of Credit Unions, about their “what’s left” survey from May 2013 that they carry out a couple of times a year. Crucially, 38% of respondents have put off paying essential bills because they can’t afford them and 34% (up 4% since Sept) have sacrificed spending on food to pay bills.  This increase in people trying to scrimp on their food bill tallies with the increase in people visiting the blog for help/guidance/information.

Then there was the announcement from Lidl Ireland & Crosscare that they were establishing Ireland’s first mobile food bank. Which included the following information:

Over 10% of people in Ireland are affected by food poverty, which means that they simply cannot afford to provide themselves and their families with the recommended daily amounts of food.

When the news of the mobile food bank started to filter through on social media on Monday I got a thrill. It is wonderful that a large retailer has recognised that they have the ability to fulfill this need and cut down on food sent to landfill.

Yet at the same time, Crosscare is a charity, who will redistribute the food to those who need it, doing its best to help those who are in food poverty. Some of the people who search the blog looking for help, information and guidance. Lidl are just one (albeit large) retailer who have recognised that collating foodstuffs is one thing, being able to store, then transport them in a refrigerated van and meeting the costs of fuel is another.

There are many other retailers who do not contribute to this scheme yet (I’m an optimist). Hundreds of tonnes of food that will go to landfill when it could be used by those who need it most.  It’s extremely interesting that the majority of the mobile food bank will operate on the southside of Dublin and I’m hoping that if facilities can be funded, the northside will also benefit in the same manner.

It shouldn’t be like this. We shouldn’t have to depend on charity to organise and distribute food to those in need. 10% of our population shouldn’t have to go without adequate nutrition. 34% of us shouldn’t have to scrimp on food to pay for bills.

If you chance across this blogpost and you’re worried about how to pay your bills and put food on the table. Please, please, put food on the table first, then pay for light and heat. If you’re in difficulty after you have paid for food and essential bills like light and heat please ask for help.

Disclosure: Both my husband and I are Crosscare volunteers but not for the food bank.

I'm an Irish mother to 2 boys, born & bred in Dublin, Ireland. I like to cook simple & fresh food for the family, with the family on a budget.


  • kathryn

    I really don’t understand why it is taking so long for the food bank movement to get established here in Ireland. When we lived in the US twenty years ago it was part of the community life of every small town, and in the UK over the last couple of weeks everywhere I went there seemed to be a well developed food bank. Maybe it is partly that the Irish social welfare system is – I won’t say more generous but maybe less punitive – than the UK and American ones, or maybe Irish family networks are better placed geographically to take up some of the slack, but it is certainly time that every community began to take responsibility for making sure that its less fortunate members get a square meal every day. Including the ones who would rather not ask the church for help for whatever reason – and I have come across people who would rather borrow from loan sharks than take help from Crosscare or St Vincent de Paul, non-sectarian as those organisations have become in recent years.

    • Wholesome Ireland

      I feel some of the reluctance is the throwback to the “workhouse” and famine fears. Similarly I’m aware of a number of families who would rather go without than engage with an organisation with a religious ethos.

      • kathryn

        I’ve heard of a few in the UK that are locally organised by their users and are really well run – essentially coops

  • Clair

    I am just now reading this post. I’m here in the US and food banks are common, although they struggle more and more each as more and more people need their services (even people/families with incomes). There’s definitely a lot of shame in having to depend on charity. Another option that I’ve seen with the Quakers here (which could be adopted by a non-religious organization) is they fill a box with basic items (rice, beans, canned goods) and charge a minimal amount for it. Most people are happy to pay but then it keeps the program going. Another interesting shift here is that food stamps are now accepted at
    most farmer’s market and they encourage people to shop by doubling the
    food stamp value, i.e., you get $20 worth of food for $10. Thanks for all your posts…I really enjoy them.

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