This funding will continue beyond 2021. This funding comes to the organisation in the form of food aid. 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. In Limerick, the food bank operates from our office on Steamboat Quay and to date, Mid West Simon supports 2000 people weekly with food aid across the region and is the second largest distributor of the FEAD programme in Ireland.
Food poverty in Ireland is well documented and is on the rise in Ireland with over 600,000 people in the country being affected by it in 2013 (Department of Social Protection, 2015). Food poverty – which is defined as the inability to afford or access healthy food – impacts on low-income groups but children, lone-parent families and the unemployed are hit particularly hard. One in five of our children go to school or bed hungry (Health Behaviour in School Aged Children, 2012).
Good-quality affordable food, available and accessible to all, is a basic human right and necessitates political and community intervention beyond welfare provision. Food poverty reflects a form of social exclusion and social injustice. Research shows socially-disadvantaged households consume less nutritionally-balanced diets and suffer from higher rates of diet-related chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and certain cancers at a younger age. The expansion of Mid West Simon’s food bank into geographical communities of disadvantage will help address some of these inequities.