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Cork Penny Dinners appeals for food donations

The charity feeds 1000 hungry people in need a week – and is looking for donations of food to help it continue its work.
Jul 15th 2012, 7:30 AM 4,818 4

1000 PEOPLE A week are fed by Cork Penny Dinners, which provides food to the homeless, those of limited means, and those in need.

Now the charity is seeking food donations so that it can keep up its work. Last September, it announced a 300 per cent increase in people using the service, which provides dinners for 5c.

Florence Harrison of Cork Penny Dinners spoke to TheJournal.ie to explain that the charity is in need of basic pantry staples which will enable it to feed more than a hundred people a day.

Appeal

Having made an appeal earlier this week, she has been delighted to see “a flurry of donations” through its website.

We are delighted – we need it badly. We are now feeding 1000 a week – that’s a lot of people. I was appealing for food as well; some people obviously can’t give money, but if they’re a farmer they could give potatoes or milk.

Harrison said the number of people calling for food is “steadily rising all the time”.

The type of customer is changing as well. We would always have our usual homeless people on the margins. Now we are getting a higher percentage of ex-self employed people who don’t receive Social Welfare. That is a really frightening place to be. I’ve spoken to a few who’ve gotten over the hump, they just have to wait 12 weeks. They said if it was not for penny dinners they would not be able to survive.

While she is delighted that the service has such an important role, Harrison said:

In a way I would prefer to see our numbers shrinking because it would show there is not a need. We are getting women with youngish children, three or four children… it tends to be more during the weekend. It is tragic.

Volunteers

Cork Penny Dinners is completely run by volunteers, which Harrison said creates a friendly and open atmosphere – “the atmosphere changes because people want to be there”.

The atmosphere is very friendly and the people receiving the food dont feel it’s a favour. That’s so important.

Harrison is currently looking for a new premises, which must reach a number of criteria when it comes to location. They are raising funds for this – and hoping that a suitable place is found soon. Currently, the premises has one outside toilet for 150 people.

It’s not just those who are homeless who visit Cork Penny Dinners – it also serves as an outlet for those who live alone.

“They live alone and it’s a very good a bit of communication with others. It’s like a little social club but that’s important too. You’ve got to have communication. It’s a basic necessity.

Some of the customers even volunteer there themselves. “It just works very well like that,” said Harrison. “They tell me it’s a bit of giving back for what they’ve received.”

Donations

For those who would like to donate food, CPD is seeking basics such as non-perishables (ie tins of baked beans, gravy granules, custard), biscuits, and even tinfoil. “We use vast quantities of tinfoil - we give sandwiches to take away and they’re all wrapped in tinfoil and we double wrap them to keep them fresh.”

If you would like to donate food, or money, you can contact Cork Penny Dinners through its website or phone Florence Harrison (who is willing to collect food within a certain distance of Cork) on 086 8125509.

Read: 300 per cent increase in people needing 5c dinners>

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Aoife Barry

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