'Panic buying is not an option': Food bank key for some families during Covid-19 crisis

Fine weather and local business help Boyle Family Resource Centre keep wheels turning

Boyle Family Resource Centre manager Louise Moran (left) unloads food supplies with volunteers and gardaí at the centre in Roscommon. Photograph: Brian Farrell

Boyle Family Resource Centre manager Louise Moran (left) unloads food supplies with volunteers and gardaí at the centre in Roscommon. Photograph: Brian Farrell

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The fine weather has helped the operators of a food bank in Boyle, Co Roscommon, as they distribute supplies to families in need during the coronavirus pandemic while observing strict social distancing rules.

Before the outbreak, Boyle Family Resource Centre distributed food parcels every week to some 70 families. It now aims to provide larger volumes of supplies every three weeks to those needing help.

Donations of fresh food from local business that have temporarily closed are making it easier to meet the needs of service users.

Louise Moran, who manages the the centre, said anxious families unable to afford to stockpile are glad to know they were not going to run out of food within days due to the centre’s support.

She said families are being invited in on a staggered basis when food is available “and thank God for the fine weather as we have space out the back where we have chalked out sections so we can abide by the rules”.

Support

Local businesses such as Knockvicar Organic Farm and Lough Key Forest Park have donated fresh food, which has been distributed along with non-perishable items. Activity packs for children have also been donated by local businesses and these include school supplies, books and sweet treats.

“Panic buying is clearly not an option for those families,” Ms Moran said.

One woman who uses the food bank said the extra cost of buying hand sanitiser and ensuring there were painkillers there in case anyone should get sick meant she was glad to get the support.

“I have two children aged five and nine and they are active children and have very good appetites and always need snacks,” she explained. “Even getting an extra box of cereal or pasta is a help.”

Gardaí unload food at the Boyle Family Resource Centre. Photograph: Brian Farrell
Gardaí unload food at the Boyle Family Resource Centre. Photograph: Brian Farrell

The woman said getting a three-week supply had given her peace of mind as she knew there would be food in the press next week, which was not always the case.

“There are times when I give them dinner and I have a cup of tea, and if there are any leftovers I have them. That is how it is, unfortunately, and I suppose I would be very embarrassed to tell people the truth.”

Another mother explained that her two young children were asthmatic so she was very worried about protecting them during the pandemic.

“My partner and I are on disability,” she said.

Not only had the food bank recently provided the family with items like porridge and soups, but they had also given her nappies, which left her with more money to pay the bills.

Reluctant

“I felt guilty the first time I used the food bank but the staff are very kind and made me feel comfortable about it.”

The centre’s doors are closed but staff and volunteers are continuing to provide services while also co-ordinating the Covid- 19 Boyle Assist Group, which organises fuel, food and medication deliveries to those in self-isolation or who are vulnerable and reluctant to leave their homes.

Skype or telephone counselling is being offered instead of the regular face-to-face sessions at the centre.

“I think mental health is going to be a massive issue,”said Ms Moran. “With more people stuck at home and in self-isolation and people worried about money, they will need support more than ever.”

Ms Moran said the Boyle community had risen to the challenge of supporting each other through the crisis.

“I think people aren’t frightened but they are worried about what lies ahead. But there is a feeling that everything that can be done is being done.”

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