PUTTING food on the table, although a necessity, is fast becoming impossible for some.
Since the opening of two food banks in Cookstown over the summer, they have become a saving grace for many.
And month-on-month, the need for such a safety net has risen at an alarming rate across the district said chairman of Cookstown Clergy Forum, Rev. Andrew Rawding.
With this in mind a number of agencies have banded together to try and meet the needs of families and elderly people who are struggling to feed themselves in these hard times.
Local representatives including the council, church groups, charities, schools, the police and social services have now set up a food bank steering group to address this growing need.
Rev. Rawding told the MAIL: “There are two existing food banks in Cookstown town, one is run by St. Vincent de Paul and they also run a voucher scheme; the other is run by Arc Kingdom Ministries on Molesworth Street.
“Agencies like Women’s Aid, Gold Partnership and Social Services are already accessing that provision and people are coming off the street and asking for food through those agencies.
“We want to compliment that and encourage more participation across the district.
“If we can all work together on this issue then we will hopefully make sure no-one feels excluded and can’t access food or whatever they need.
“We’re getting different churches and agencies together to make sure we can cover the whole district - Pomeroy, Moneymore, Stewartstown and Coagh.”
The steering group aims to set up regular donations from community groups, churches, schools and charities that will all go into a central storage facility - then frontline agencies, community groups, social services, police or anyone who is in touch with people in need should be able to access it.
Rev Rawding added: “This store should represent everyone in the community rather than being linked to any one organisation or denomination.”
A member of the food bank steering group, and spokesman for the council Sean McElhatton, told the MAIL: “My involvement is to work in partnership with the clergy forum to raise awareness of the two existing food banks.
“Coming up to Christmas we would like to focus peoples’ minds on food poverty and people in need.”