OVER 1.5 tonnes of food has been collected so far in preparation for the launch of Larne’s new food bank service.
The initiative will provide a vital lifeline for a growing number of people who are struggling to feed themselves and their families, as household budgets come under increasing pressure.
Several local churches have teamed up with the Trussell Trust, the UK’s only food bank network, to establish the project in the town.
The initiative relies on donations of non-perishable food such as tinned tomatoes, tinned meat, rice pudding and cereals. A minimum of three days’ emergency food is then passed on free to people in crisis.
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The bank works in partnership with agencies in the town and people are referred via organisations such as social services, Women’s Aid and the Simon Community.
Already, more than 50 volunteers have pledged to give up their time to support the project by collecting, sorting and distributing food to those in need.
And, at a recent training session in First Larne Presbyterian Church hall, these kind-hearted local people were given a comprehensive run-down of the duties they will be performing when the food bank is up and running.
Volunteer Alan Turner told the Times: “We had a great turnout at the training event. Hannah Badger, a representative from the Trussell Trust headquarters in England, talked us through the various duties we will be performing.
“One very important point she stressed was for us to be sensitive to our clients, as many people will find it extremely difficult to come to us looking for help.
“We also learned more about how the entire process will work, including how to handle the food correctly and how to store it. Overall it was very useful and we went away feeling confident about the work we will be doing,” Alan concluded.
It is hoped that the food bank service will begin by the end of March. Anyone wishing to contribute food can do so at one of the many donation points, which include Craigyhill Methodist Church, Larne First Presbyterian Church, St Cedma’s Church, Larne Methodist Church, Cairncastle Presbyterian Church, Salvation Army (Dunluce Street, Larne), Mulholland’s Funeral Directors (Exchange Road, Larne) and Ballygally Spar.
The food will then be collected on a Sunday and taken to a central hub at Craigyhill Methodist Church, where it will be weighed and prepared for distribution on designated days during the week.