Coronavirus creating 'a different poor' as Dublin foodbank sees surge in demand

One Dublin foodbank has seen a surge in demand as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The Peopl...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.11 27 Oct 2020

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Coronavirus creating 'a differ...

Coronavirus creating 'a different poor' as Dublin foodbank sees surge in demand

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.11 27 Oct 2020

Share this article

One Dublin foodbank has seen a surge in demand as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The People's Foodbank in Bluebell, west Dublin drops food parcels to people's homes rather than having them queue up for assistance.

Jimmy Dunne is pastor of Bluebell Community Church.


He told Barry Whyte for Newstalk Breakfast: "We're a community focused church and we got very acquainted with the CDP [Community Development Project] here in Bluebell and we started to work with them and helping them in every way we could.

"And one of things was we had connections to FoodCloud and we were able to get food, and I used to gather food every week, and we'd send out parcels through them and they'd identify people that have needs and that sort of thing.

"Basically I was doing it from the boot of my car".

"Small beginnings - but it was me running around in the car and then delivering it and to go back for more, and back for more and that sort of thing - so that's how it began".

'A new vulnerability'

He said there is now "without a doubt" more people using the foodbank, and they have had to adapt.

"Because of COVID it grew and grew and grew - we had to get buses and vans to get the food, and every Friday we would find that we had to distribute it, put it together in the community centre and then bring it out to the various communities".

Tommy Coombes is manager of the Bluebell Community Development Project.

"The need has grown so much from, we'll say, 20 or 30 families a week to 300 families a week - and it's growing.

"And the vulnerable people that we would normally come into contact with, that cohort has changed as well, they're still there - but there's a new vulnerability out there.

"There's people now that would never have gone to a foodbank.

"People's idea of a foodbank - you queue up, you get a parcel and walk away - it's different here.

"Here we deliver it to the door, we leave it and we walk away - so there's no big deal made about it.

"And what we're finding now is that people that have never looked for a handout or for help before are now looking for help.

"There's a different poor emerging through this COVID".

'The only social contact'

Eddie Nolan, who uses the service, explains: "I've 11 children and three of my children are actually out of work because of the COVID thing now.

"They're really down on their luck.

"I was a bit reluctant to come at first, but then when I see how bad they were struggling and that.

"So my three children that are not working at the moment are grateful for it, and they'd be lost without it".

"Whatever savings I had for Christmas and things like that I gave to them three children, because they have my grandchildren and their children in order to get them a few bits and pieces for Christmas because they're just really bad times now for them".

Another user, Lena Hayes, said: "The foodbank is brilliant because someone comes to your door and you're talking to them.

"And then they might ask you 'Do you want to pay some bills?' and they go and pay your bills for you.

"So it's a lot more than just the food, that's what I'm trying to say".

"That's really important because I live on my own and there's a lot of people around me that live on their own as well."

She said they all cocooned as a result of the pandemic.

"But for someone to knock at your door and ask you were you alright, did you want anything - you know that way?

"That was the only social contact".

It come as a recent survey carried out by Barnardos showed an increase in demand for food support for families since the onset of COVID-19.

The charity said its services currently show an anticipated 57% increase in need from families seeking help with food supports for their children in the coming months.

The surge in demand for child food supports follows earlier research by Barnardos, which revealed that 35% of families with young children increased spending on food in the period from March to June as the pandemic took hold.

Since then, the charity has provided 7,250 food parcels and 9,620 hot meals to families unable to access nutritious, good quality food for their children.

A number of parents have also told Barnardos that they have been eating smaller, or fewer meals, because they are worried their family will not have enough food.

It comes as retailer Aldi Ireland has launched a two-year partnership with Barnardos - aimed at raising €1m.

All monies raised will go directly to Barnardos Early Years and Family Support Programmes - enabling the charity to provide the 10,000 warm meals to children who attend its centres, as well as funding other key services.

Siobhan Greene, director of Barnardos Children's Services, said: "Barnardos has experienced an increase in families seeking help during the coronavirus pandemic with a 30% rise in referrals to our services.

"At the start of the crisis, we were able to immediately respond to their needs in a practical way by providing food and basic essentials and by offering support regarding understanding and managing the emotional impact of this challenging time.

"As we progress through the next stage of the crisis, we are expecting to see further significant demands for our services from children and families who are struggling to cope."

Coronavirus creating 'a different poor' as Dublin foodbank sees surge in demand

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People can donate to The People's Foodbank through a GoFundMe page, or can donate €4 to Barnardos by texting ‘BARNARDOS’ to 50300 or by visiting

Main image:  Facebook/Bluebell CDP

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Bluebell Coronavirus Coronavirus Pandemic Dublin FoodCloud Foodbank Jimmy Dunne Newstalk Breakfast The People's Foodbank Tommy Coombes

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