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County foodbanks struggling to meet the surge in demand

STARK statistics outline a 159 per cent increase in foodbank usage in Fermanagh over a twelve month period. 
According to the Trussell Trust over one thousand people relied on a County Fermanagh foodbank between April 2018 and March 2019. During the same period the charity provided 36,783 three day emergency food supplies to people in the North. 
 The figures for 2017/18 are significantly lower, with just under 400 availing of the foodbank’s services. 32,433 emergency three day food packages were distributed during this time. 
Councillor Donal O’Cofaigh pointed out that there had been a “dramatic surge” in figures, with 446 of the food parcels distributed in Fermanagh last year going to children. 
“These figures are more than 159 percent higher than they were the year before, showing that we are facing a growing food poverty crisis in the county.
“That this is the situation in Fermanagh in 2019 is hard to countenance. The foodbanks are performing miracles day and daily but the reality is that they shouldn’t need to be. 
“Our social welfare system is clearly failing our most vulnerable leaving them destitute.
“There is a real urgency to do something to address what is now a mounting crisis of poverty in our midst. I have called for an anti-poverty fund to be established by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council to help mitigate the worst impacts.”
Last month an Enniskillen based foodbank announced it would be opening an extra day in the week to facilitate increased demand. 
Speaking to the Herald at the time, John Shades, foodbank manager said that it was felt by opening two days of the week they were “only scratching the surface”.  
Mr Shades noted that circumstances vary for each person who comes through the doors of the foodbank. “We offer up to four weeks support and after that we would look into individual circumstances to see if we can offer additional support and how long that would be for. 
“We are really here as a short term solution.” 
Those in need of support can find the foodbank via the Trussel Trust website www.trusselltrust.org.

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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