Food banks feed residents of North Down and Ards

Residents of the boroughs of Ards and North Down can receive supplemental nutrition during times of crisis thanks to the volunteers and donors associated with local food pantries. These local charities provide a channel for neighbours and community partners to donate food to individuals and families in need.

Ards Food Aid

Thriving Life Church Foodbank Centre is the setting for the primary conduit for matching donations and overstock items to the hungry residents of Ards. It is the site of the Newtownards Foodbank, located on Movilla Road. This Trussell Trust affiliate is an active community organisation that has been an effective mobiliser of businesses, community activists and neighbours who care about the wellbeing of the less fortunate members of our community. A secondary food pickup location has been established at The Net in Comber, which is on 49 Bridge Street.

Residents may visit either facility and trade in vouchers for food parcels. Each package contains enough food items to provide a family with three daily meals for up to three days. A red food voucher must first be presented to obtain donations.

Vouchers are evidence that someone is participating in one of the charitable or social programmes within Ards. It ensures that those who are helped are trying to help themselves. It is one step established by Trussell Trust to prevent a cycle of permanent dependency. A full list of current partners that can issue vouchers may be obtained by contacting Newtownards Foodbank at 028 9181 3205. They can also confirm hours and days when pickups are possible.

Rural residents who cannot find transportation may be eligible for delivery of an emergency food parcel. Volunteers operate a rural delivery service to assist those who are geographically isolated.

North Down Food Aid

Silverbirch Evangelical Church described North Down as being one of the most economically deprived regions of Northern Ireland. It cited this as well as several other statistics as reasons for deciding to take action. It was one of the early partners in a new charity that opened in 2012 for the purpose of feeding local residents during their time of need. Bangor NI Foodbank is was created as a Trussell Trust affiliate. This local food pantry conducts supermarket collections and specialises in donation drives that boost stocks of nonperishable items.

One step that the organisation has taken to meet the growing needs of the community is to expand into a second location. It is now open weekly at Bangor Elim Church, which is located at 13 Balloo Crescent. The primary site is still Hamilton Road Baptist Church in Bangor.

Enquiries may be made by calling 028 9127 1800, though the preference is for email contact. The general enquiries email is [email protected]

Storehouse North Down is a major food donation network that serves the entire North Down borough. Created in September 2012, this charity is already supported by dozens of partner organisations. Volunteers staff the warehouse located at Enterprise Road in Bangor, making this truly a community-supported initiative. Some local residents may remember this as the site of the old Oneida factory. Storehouse North Down shares space with Kiltonga Christian Centre.

For enquiries, residents may email [email protected] or call 07526 541168. A volunteer will explain the process for picking up a food hamper. Advance enquiries are recommended since the facility is not open all days and hours of the week.

These volunteer-operated services bring much-needed relief to the people of Ards and North Down. Many beneficiaries are discovering that it is not just for the long-term unemployed. It is actually popular with working adults who have recently been made redundant or who have suffered a tragedy.