A LAGAN River councillor has urged Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council to offer financial assistance to local food banks.
Alliance Party Councillor Eóin Tennyson said council needs to put in place a comprehensive package of financial support for local food banks.
“Food banks are at the heart of the community response to Covid-19 and have experienced an unprecedented spike in demand over recent weeks,” said Councillor Tennyson.
“They have worked tirelessly alongside council, statutory agencies and community volunteers to support the most vulnerable and ensure that no-one is left behind.
The very least we can do as a council is play our part by making a contribution to support their incredible work.”
The Alliance Party councillor said he has raised the issue with council officials and will continue to do so.
Alliance Party Councillor Eóin Tennyson
“I have raised with council officers, on a number of occasions, the need for a comprehensive package of financial support for food banks to ensure that they can continue to meet demand.
“This can be achieved by recomposing funding from cancelled events and redirecting a number of existing funding streams.
“I will continue to push for progress and hope to see a package of support in place in the very near future.”
A spokesperson for Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the area’s food banks were already able to apply for funding.
“The food banks in the borough that were in operation before the coronavirus crisis were eligible to apply for funding in recent years through council’s financial assistance programme which accepts applications three times per year,” said the spokesperson.
“Our current Covid-19 Community Support Grant offers financial support to organisations in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector to support community-led initiatives aimed at providing relief to those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Ratepayers expect us to follow a process and apply criteria to ensure that funding is allocated appropriately, and food banks have successfully applied for and received financial assistance from the Covid-19 Community Support Grant.”
The spokesperson also said council officers are currently assisting local food banks in more practical ways.
“Officers have been redeployed to work with the food banks to ensure that they have access to our people and our contacts, said the spokesperson.
“They also have access to our extensive social media following so that we can continue to help them deliver their invaluable support to vulnerable people in our local communities under these unprecedented circumstances.”
The spokesperson also called on the public to donate any extra supplies of foods such as UHT milk and tinned meats to food banks.
“Our local food banks are struggling to get access to specific food and non-food items that are currently in short supply such as UHT milk and tinned meats/pies,” said the spokesperson
“If you have any of these items, you can find details on how to redistribute them to those in need via the community section on our website here.”