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Free food parcels for the needy this Christmas 09.11.15

by Linda McGrory

PARCELS including food, coats, shoes and shampoo will be distributed to Ireland's most needy families this winter under a new anti-poverty strategy, it's been revealed.
The European Fund for Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) has tasked charities with the distribution of food and essential non-food items to people suffering extreme deprivation.
It replaces a long-running scheme which saw EU intervention stocks of cheese and butter distributed to the poor.
FEAD ultimately wants to eradicate social exclusion by equipping people with the nourishment and basic supports necessary to apply for jobs or training.
Charities will also have to provide measures such as counselling or personal development sessions to help service users reintegrate back into society.
Some €3.5m in food and non-food aid including school items will be distributed under this year’s allocation.
Target groups will include children in low-income homes; the homeless and rough sleepers; some Traveller and Roma families; recovering addicts; people in domestic abuse shelters and vulnerable ex-prisoners.
Simply being a welfare recipient will not be sufficient to meet the criteria for aid packages, according to the Department of Social Protection, which is overseeing the scheme.
"The programme is targeted at people with limited income and those without access to income or living in poor circumstances,” said a Department spokesperson.
“A number of key organisations will be enabled to purchase food and essential non-food items for onward distribution to organisations that have applied and been authorised to receive stocks.
"The programme is now operational and the Department is working with a number of leading charities and voluntary organisations on the practical arrangements for the immediate roll-out of the first tranche of support,” she added.
Organisations taking part in the scheme will include leading anti-poverty charities; homeless shelters; soup kitchens; meals-on-wheels groups; asylum seeker centres and domestic abuse refuges.
European Fund for Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD).
Under the guidelines, a single person may receive a weekly food pack including 750g cereal, a standard loaf of bread, 400g of butter, 400g cheese, 300g biscuits, 40 tea bags, a small jar of coffee, 500g sugar, three cans of beans or vegetables, three or four pieces of fruit and two litres of milk.
The scheme also allows for the direct provision of hot meals to recipients.
Hygiene products including shampoo, shower gel and toothpaste as well as shoes, clothes and sleeping bags may also be made available.
A total of almost €27m will be distributed in Ireland over the next six years under the €3.8 billion programme as Europe tries to meet poverty reduction targets by 2020.
About 30 Irish organisations including charities with nationwide branches have so far applied to take part in the scheme. Applications will be received until the deadline on November 30, 2015. See www.feadireland.ie .
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