Zero hours contract workers turn to Limerick food bank

Jackie Bonfield and Geraldine Clancy of the Simon Community at the Limerick Food Bank.

WORKERS trying to manage on low wages and ‘zero-hours’ contracts are among those who are turning to the Limerick Food Bank to avoid becoming homeless, according to the Simon Community.

Three thousand of the 5,000 people who were fed by the food bank last year were children.

And Jackie Bonfield, Mid-West Simon’s General Manager, said that without Lottery funding, the Food `Bank would have fallen at the first hurdle when the applied for on-going financial support.

“Those who use the Food Bank are often working. They might be on zero hour contracts, on low incomes or over-stretched during the boom. We reach out to families to help them find a way through the most difficult of times.

“Without the lottery funding we simply wouldn’t have been in a position to access further funding,” she said.

Thousands of individuals, clubs and organisations from County Limerick have benefitted from some of the €5 billion raised by the National Lottery for good causes all over Ireland in the last 30 years.

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Established in Limerick by the Simon Community, the Mid-West Food Bank distributed 55 tonnes of food last year.

It’s estimated that the Food Bank can save under-pressure families as much as €200 a month, money that can be used to pay rent and bills, thereby reducing the risk of homelessness.

“We wanted to initiate a programme that has maximum benefit for people and families who are struggling. It’s an intervention which can prevent them from tipping into crisis, it helps with a precarious balancing act,” Ms Bonfield explained.

Key to the establishment of the Food Bank in 2014 was a National Lottery ‘Good Causes’ grant of €15,000.

“Without the lottery funding we wouldn’t have been able to get up and running because it allowed us to purchase the fridges and the dry food storage areas for the three areas we operate the food bank from,” she told The Limerick Post.

And once set up, they were able to apply for FEAD (the Fund for European Aid to the most Deprived) through the Department of Social Protection.

For those in need, the Food Bank means they have one less worry to think about each week.

“We qualified for funding until 2020 through FEAD which will see food delivered to us every month so our 16 volunteers and staff can keep this vital service going,” Ms Bonfield added.