Limerick Food Partnership – Pictured at the Limerick Milk Market were Maeve Cosgrave, Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board/Healthy Food Made Easy Tutor, HFME learners Louise Canty, Caz Canty and Karol Ann Canty, Fr Seamus Enright, Co Chair of LFP and Redemptorists, Eileen Hoffler, Redemptorists, Olivia O’Brien, LFP Coordinator, Roisin Ross, Healthy Limerick (back row) with Christine Gurnett, Senior Community Dietitian HSE, Rachael McCarthy, MSC student in Nutrition and Dietetics UL, Clare Davison, MSC student in Nutrition and Dietetics UL (front row). Picture: Richard Lynch/ilovelimerick

Limerick Food Partnership tackles food poverty in Limerick communities

Limerick Food Partnership Olivia O'Brien, LFP Coordinator, Fr Seamus Enright, Co Chair of LFP and Redemptorists, Professor Niamh Hourigan, Vice President of Academic Affairs in Mary I and Co Chair of Limerick Food Partnership and Roisin Ross, Healthy Limerick. Picture: Richard Lynch/ilovelimerick

Olivia O’Brien, LFP Coordinator, Fr Seamus Enright, Co Chair of LFP and Redemptorists, Professor Niamh Hourigan, Vice President of Academic Affairs in Mary I and Co Chair of Limerick Food Partnership and Roisin Ross, Healthy Limerick. Picture: Richard Lynch/ilovelimerick

I Love Limerick have teamed up with Limerick Food Partnership to promote healthy food options in Limerick City and county.

Limerick Food Partnership (LFP), coordinated by PAUL Partnership, consists of a host of voluntary organisations, local community groups and state agencies, who have come together to tackle food poverty by raising awareness and improving access to healthy food options in Limerick communities. Limerick Food Partnership is funded by the Redemptorists and Healthy Ireland via Healthy Limerick and Limerick CYPSC through Limerick City and County Council.

Limerick Redemptorists, Limerick City & County Council, Limerick & Clare Education and Training Board, Limerick Children & Young People Services Committees, Mid-West SIMON Community, HSE Health & Wellbeing and St Vincent de Paul Mid-West are just a few of the organisations involved in tackling Limerick food poverty.

Originally formed over 15 years ago, in 2019 LFP was relaunched following concern from Limerick Redemptorists and several Limerick groups that food poverty was a growing problem in a number of communities.

According to Safefood, the public body responsible for raising awareness of issues relating to food safety and healthy eating, “Food poverty is the inability to access a nutritionally adequate diet. This could be the result of various factors such as cost, education, transport, literacy, or culture. The impact of food poverty is far-reaching, affecting health and social participation. An everyday reality in many Irish homes, studies show that 10% of the population experiences food poverty”.

Redemptorist Fr. Seamus Enright, co-chair of LFP tells I Love Limerick, “The aim of the LFP is very simple; there should be nobody in the city of Limerick who is hungry. Unfortunately, that is not the case”.

“People go to bed hungry at night, and children go to school hungry in the morning. In a city of plenty, this is absolutely scandalous.”

The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns saw a severe increase in Limerick food poverty, highlighting the importance of LFP and the work that they do.

“The purpose of the LFP was to bring together a range of organisations involved in dealing with food poverty and look at the points where they were overlapping and where there were gaps in food provision,” explains the partnership co-chair, Professor Niamh Hourigan.

“We also recognised that there was a skills gap emerging amongst those who were receiving food parcels. In some cases, because people were receiving food, they were losing skills around budgeting and cooking. We felt it was very important that we put strategies in place to deal with that skills gap.”

While LFP offers a network and support to its member organisations, it is also involved in the direct provision of education and training programmes, such as the HSE’s evidence-based Healthy Food Made Easy (HFME) programme. HFME is a basic cooking and nutrition programme that aims to help people change to a healthier diet, plan and budget meals, as well as make easy-to-cook meals.

The Partnership is also conscious of the various cultures that shape Limerick City and encourages integration and diversity within programmes. Sustainability is also a key priority for LFP, which aims to reduce unnecessary food waste in communities.

Over the coming weeks, I Love Limerick will highlight the amazing work of LFP, from food parcels and online “fake-away” cookery demonstrations delivered during the pandemic, to the Redemptorist Christmas Hampers Appeal. The programme will also let us in on their plans for 2022, including an increased delivery of the HSE’s Healthy Food Made Easy programme across Limerick city and county.

Mayor of Limerick City and County, Daniel Butler, said in his support for the initiative, “I acknowledge the key role Limerick Food Partnership has in addressing food poverty, and I further acknowledge the ongoing work of the Partnership within communities rolling out the HSE’s Healthy Food Made Easy Programme. Limerick City and County Council, through the Healthy Limerick Programme, will continue to support the Limerick Food Partnership through these very challenging times.”

For more information on the Limerick Food Partnership, go HERE

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