Food appeal as charity turns away hungry

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has made an urgent food appeal after a leading Catholic charity in Dublin told him it is having to turn away hungry people.

 Archbishop Diarmuid Martin at the Crosscare food bank with manager Valerie Cummins. Picture: John McElroy

The archbishop was asked to make the appeal by Crosscare, the archdiocese’s social care agency, because it is finding it impossible to meet demand.

Last week Crosscare’s food bank received requests for food from 120 individuals and families in one community but was only able to give parcels to 40.

Last year it gave out 500 tonnes of food and, given the current rate of demand, it will need 750 tonnes this year.

The agency needs urgent help sourcing food supplies or more people could be turned away in the coming weeks.

Crosscare supplies food directly to those who need it and also to 10 charities, including St Vincent de Paul, which are working to help people who are marginalised, excluded or living in poverty.

The charity established a food bank in 1989 and it is the first time it has been unable to meet demand.

Crosscare’s senior manager of food services, Michael McDonagh, said he asked the archbishop to make the appeal.

“I explained to him that there was a dire situation out there — we are finding it really hard to get the food for people in need.

“Two years ago we were providing 280,000 meals. This year it will be close to 500,000. The people who access our services are from all walks of life; the demand is massive and it has just become too much for us.”

Mr McDonagh said the group was also appealing to the food industry for help.

The archbishop made his appeal during Mass in the Pro-Cathedral yesterday to celebrate the Feast of St Laurence O’Toole, who was renowned for his services to the poor.

Archbishop Martin said he wanted every Dublin parish to help collect food for the food bank over the four weeks of Advent.

During his homily, Archbishop Martin said Ireland was still a wealthy society, despite ongoing economic challenges. “A wealthy society always runs the risk of not seeing or not fully grasping the shadows and the inequities around us,” he said.

“We can so easily get caught up in our own concerns, placing them first, that we do not notice that our sights has become blurred towards poverty and suffering.”

Archbishop Martin said the new diocesan initiative for Advent — The Diocesan Crosscare Food Appeal — would see parishes becoming the focal points for the collection of non-perishable foodstuffs to supplement the diocesan food bank.

Parishioners are being urged to bring food supplies to their local parish at weekend Mass times. Crosscare will collect and redistribute the food every Monday and Tuesday.

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