So many families needed help putting food on the table at Christmas — that one Cookstown foodbank ran out of food while the other reported a massive increase in requests.
Ark Kingdom Ministries, who run Antioch Storehouse — now open for almost a year — was forced to spend over £400 from its own coffers just to keep up with the demand for food handouts over the festive period.
And this, even though Cookstown Council, the Clergy Forum, and various churches and schools in the area held food-raisers to collect donations for those in need.
Ark’s head pastor, Ufuoma Obahor told the MAIL: “We have been getting pockets of food, but we still had to go and buy a lot more, so that’s the scale of it.
“Getting towards Christmas we saw there was an increase, and then it died down because people got presents — that is my take — but now that Christmas is over we are beginning to deal with the aftermath.”
And it appears the cost to the church isn’t taken into account, as Pastor Ufuoma says when food is in short supply he simply authorises the purchase of more.
“Once food is needed it doesn’t matter about the cost to the church, we just go and buy the food,” he explained.
Meanwhile Cookstown’s St Vincent de Paul, which opened their foodbank only in June saw the numbers of those in need rise from around 50 families per month over the summer, to a massive 288 requests for help in December alone, costing around £7,000.
St Vincent de Paul’s foodbank, while also providing for the needy works differently from Antioch Storehouse.
Antioch will give to anyone who reaches out to them, while St Vincent de Paul run a voucher scheme whereby numerous agencies such as Sure Start and Women’s Aid give vouchers for food hampers to those who are struggling.
President of the charity in Cookstown, Dennis Loughrey said: “The need is quite genuinely and honestly on the rise.
“As people become more aware that we and Antioch provide for this need, they will become more accepting of it and put issues like pride aside and come and ask for help.”
Like Pastor Ufuoma, he said the generosity of schools, churches and businesses made the foodbanks possible.