‘Case-by-case’ approach to aid over rent supplements

Tánaiste Joan Burton has said the Government is "seeking to take an individual case-by-case approach" to people who are not getting sufficient rent supplements to afford the increasing costs in the private rental market.

She said she expected to have a report before the year of December which will guide her decisions.

She plans to involve local authorities, voluntary housing agencies, and homelessness representative groups more in providing people with proper, affordable, accommodation.

She made her comments yesterday after officially opened Ireland’s first food hub which, she believes, will be a model for similar operations throughout the EU to ensure nobody every goes hungry.

The minister announced she will provide funding for the Bia Food Initiative (BiaFI) in Little Island, Co Cork, and for two other similar food hubs which the charity will open in Dublin next April and in Galway in the spring of 2016.

The Cork facility supplies surplus food to charities which redistribute it to needy families throughout Munster.

It is supplied by major companies including Tesco, Musgrave’s, Aldi, Barry’s Tea, and Kelloggs and went into full operational mode 10 weeks ago with a computerised system which allows charities to book supplies online.

BiaFI chairman Jack Dunphy said the operation was being run by a large group of highly-skilled volunteers whose ultimate aim was to stop 100,000 tonnes of edible food being buried annually in the country’s landfills, especially when so many people needed it.

Ms Burton said: “The opening of the new BiaFI facility represents a significant step in developing a national operation that allows for the twin issues of food surpluses and food poverty to be tackled.

“Bia Food is leading the way with this initiative. I am looking forward to seeing the growth of the initiative over the coming years to further combat the food scarcity issue.”

BiaFi plans to be a self-funding and sustainable organisation within three years.

It’s a far cry from the days when St Vincent de Paul stalwart Brendan Dempsey used a van to distribute food to Cork’s needy.

Mr Dempsey, who has retired from doing the deliveries after 10 years, got a major surprise when Ms Burton unveiled a plaque to mark the opening of the Little Island facility —it’s being named after him.

She also presented him with a sculpture depicting the van he used to drive around which was presented by grateful BiaFi friends.


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