Nursing home operator, nurse and former Labour Party Mayor of Nenagh Sandra Farrell is to open a community food bank at Loreto House, Nenagh, on August 29.
Known for her volunteer work with early school leavers, socially disadvantaged and the elderly, for whom she set up a Christmas Day Dinner service, Ms Farrell has been working closely with Mid-West Simon to bring a food parcel service to North Tipperary.
"The Parish Council is in support of this initiative and have given us use of this community building in the town. This building has a history of providing support services for the community. So, this project follows that ethos of community support for the vulnerable," said Ms Farrell, who was elected to the Fianna Fail Committee of 15 at the party's ardfheis last October.
The food bank will be supported by Simon Mid-West and Ms Farrell said that they were seeking additional volunteers to support their work.
The project will run every Wednesday and Thursday morning until we assess the level of need for this service in our community, she said.
"It would be our hope eventually to extend this project with a home delivery service for people who can not come to Loreto House," said Ms Farrell.
More than 600,000 people in Ireland live in food poverty, and while people associate food banks with extreme poverty, actually, the people coming to food banks come from all walks of life, she said.
"The recovery hasn’t reached everyone. Lots of people are cash-poor as they struggle to pay for rising household bills and mortgages on homes that are still in negative equity. Others have lost their jobs or are struggling to keep up with rising rents," said Ms Farrell.
"We know from our research that men and women from all backgrounds need our help in Nenagh. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and it’s something the local community can be proud of. We look after our own in North Tipperary. We still have community values, no matter what," she said.
Mid-West Simon has been helping clients by offering a food bank service in Limerick and Clare since 2014. Clients are individuals or families experiencing food poverty. The Food Bank can save under-pressure families money which can then be used to pay rent and bills instead, thereby reducing the risk of homelessness.
“Each month, 18 pallets of branded basic staples (e.g. pasta, rice, cereals, cooking sauces, tinned products, tea, coffee and sugar) are delivered for distribution to registered service users who have requested support to augment their weekly grocery shop,” Ms Farrell said.
“I set up the Christmas Dinners programme for the elderly, lonely, isolated, deprived and I wanted to expand that into a food bank service. I’m delighted to announce this new initiative and the support of Mid-West Simon," she said.
Ms Farrell is looking for volunteers to support running the service.
If you would like to get involved or seek further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or at 087-6989401.
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