Cavan’s Food Emergency Response Initiative is a prime example of people coming together to help and support those in need during a very difficult time. The initiative originated in St Bricin’s College, Belturbet, when Principal Mary Sheridan was concerned that some of her students would experience food poverty during the lockdown and came to Cavan County Local Development (CCLD) with the idea of starting a collection for families in the area.
Cavan County Local Development (CCLD) is a community-based organisation with a remit to deliver programmes on behalf of various Government departments. The company is a non-profit organisation with a voluntary board of directors comprised of representatives from the statutory, community and social partners. The organisation has a remit to tackle social exclusion, combat poverty and support rural development across county Cavan.
CCLD led the response in collaboration with St Bricin’s Belturbet, Cavan County Council, Civil Defence, An Garda Siochana, the Family Resource Centres, the GAA, Cavan Public Participation Network (PPN) and a number of community groups and local food businesses including Gerry Ellis and Sons Fresh Today, Cully’s Craft Bakery, Tesco Cavan, and Pat the Baker. The coming together of all these groups to establish a local food hub, assisted households that suffered job losses due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
This was a human response to the COVID 19 crisis and has been greatly received. Food Emergency Response Initiatives were delivered across the county, such as Food Hubs and Meals on Wheels. These initiatives supported those experiencing food poverty and vulnerable people cocooning during the lockdown.
Cavan PPN promoted the services through its extensive network of community groups and through referrals from the Cavan County Council operated Cavan Covid-19 Community Call helpline.
CCLD coordinates the service taking food orders from the customer as well as providing a valuable friendly call, ordering meals from the supplier and ensuring a broad range of dinner options are available to the customer seven days a week. CCLD coordinated the logistics of both sourcing and receiving food donations which were predominately locally sourced as well as from Food Cloud in Dublin
Civil Defence and An Garda Siochana delivered the food parcels to each household.
The other partners acted as area-based Food Hubs for receiving bulk food and both staff and volunteers made up parcels for each household based on the number of occupants and other specific needs.
Also placed into packs were other donations such as books, skipping ropes, chalk, crayons, activities packs, information leaflets, emergency contact numbers etc.
The Food Hubs were located in various towns and this allowed for a county wide provision of food.
In addition to the Food Hubs, a Meals on Wheels Services was offered to those over the age of 65 or housebound due to an illness or a disability but not in financial difficulty. The demand for the service was very high, but unfortunately as a result of the crisis the majority of Meals on Wheels groups had to cease operations. To fill that gap a Civil Defence driver delivers chilled ready meals twice a week to houses across county Cavan driving over 600 km per week.
The Food Emergency Response Initiative is a great success and a credit to all involved.