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Catriona Twomey, of Cork Penny Dinners in Little Hanover Street, says she understands the pressures families face when sending kids back to school and provides a hamper with a good selection of food.	Picture: Jim Coughlan
Catriona Twomey, of Cork Penny Dinners in Little Hanover Street, says she understands the pressures families face when sending kids back to school and provides a hamper with a good selection of food. Picture: Jim Coughlan
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Families reach out for Penny Dinner hampers

BACK to school costs in recent weeks have forced more families to reach out to charity services such as Cork Penny Dinners.

Penny Dinners coordinator Catriona Twomey said the charity always notices an increase of people looking for hampers of food around September as children go back to school.

“We see them in September for a few weeks, but then they sort of sort themselves out and they are grateful then for that bit of help for that month,” said Ms Twomey.

Catriona said the parents always seem to put their children first and it is sad to see people struggling.

“The sad thing is the parents look after the kids as best they can and then they come here looking for a bit of food to tie them over. It’s tough. If you have a couple of children, the cost is crazy.”

Ms Twomey said the centre gives out a good hamper of basic grub to keep families going.

“We don’t give a skimpy hamper, we give a good selection of food. We give them the basics: bread, butter, milk, tea, sugar, cereal, sausages, eggs, black and white pudding, biscuits, apple juice, potatoes, and veg.

“You have to give it because it is only food you know? We totally understand where they are coming from. We know the cost of sending someone back to school. It’s tough.”

Catriona said the hampers can help people to feel a little better about their situation.

“We try to make them feel a bit better by giving them anything we have because sure it must be awful for them to come to us. We try to do our best for them.”

Ms Twomey said it is a mix of moms and dads that come in looking for a food hamper.

“It is not just moms coming down to us, it is dads as well because the moms are too ashamed to come. When you hear things like that, you just feel terrible.”

The volunteer said she empathised with these families and understood the dilemma they were in.