New food bank scheme helps dozens of clients

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LARNE’S food bank service has assisted about 40 local people since its inception less than two months ago.

The food bank, launched on March 22, is designed to help people who are struggling to feed themselves and their families. A number of local churches joined forces to set up the initiative, which provides free food to people in crisis.

And the charity held its first street collection in the town on Saturday, May 11, raising a whopping £607.17, which will be used towards operational costs.

Minister of Craigyhill Methodist Church, Rev Tommy Stevenson paid tribute to the “generous” local people who kindly donated to the cause, as well as the 20 food bank volunteers who carried out the collection at various locations throughout the town centre.

He told the Times: “The food bank team is delighted with the amount raised on Saturday. On their behalf, I want to say a big thank you to everyone who supported the event.”

The food bank scheme, supported by the Trussell Trust – the UK’s only food bank network – relies on donations of non-perishable food.

Churches throughout the town act as donation points, and the food is then collected on a Sunday and taken to a central hub at Craigyhill Methodist Church, where it is weighed and prepared for distribution on designated days during the week.

A minimum of three days emergency food is then passed on free to those in need.

Donations can be made to the following churches and businesses: First Larne Presbyterian, Cairncastle Presbyterian, Craigyhill Methodist, Larne Methodist, St Anthony’s, St Cedma’s, St MacNissi’s, Carnlough Methodist, Gardenmore Presbyterian, Old Presbyterian Church of Larne and Kilwaughter, St John’s, Larne Christian Fellowship, Salvation Army, Mulholland Funeral Directors, Spar at Ballygally and NFU Mutual.

The bank is seeking long-life food of the following type – milk (UHT or powdered), sugar (500g), fruit juice, tins or packets of soup, pasta sauces, tins of sponge pudding, tins of tomatoes, cereals, tins of rice pudding, tea bags, instant coffee, instant mash potato, rice, pasta, tinned meat or fish, tins of vegetables, tinned fruit, jam, snack bars.

For insurance reasons, food that is out of date or damaged cannot be distributed.

The bank works in partnership with agencies in the town and people are referred via various organisations. In order to obtain food, a client must have a voucher issued by one of the following referring churches or organisations: First Larne Presbyterian, Cairncastle Presbyterian, Children’s Disability Team, Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Larne Methodist, Salvation Army, St Anthony’s, St Cedma’s, St MacNissi’s, Simon Community, Women’s Aid and various social services.

Food can be collected at Craigyhill Methodist Church on Mondays from 1.00pm to 3.00pm, Wednesdays from 5.00pm to 7.00pm and Fridays from 10.00am to noon.

The food bank is run by a dedicated team of local volunteers, and anyone who would like to help is asked to contact