Dublin Irish Festival
Event generates tons of food for local pantry
The Dublin Irish Festival draws about 100,000 people to Dublin's Coffman Park during its three-day run, but it also generates tons of food for the Dublin Food Pantry.
Entrance into the Dublin Irish Festival Sunday, Aug. 5, is free until 11 a.m. with the donation of a nonperishable food item to the Dublin Food Pantry. The festival will run from Aug. 3-5.
"It's our biggest food drive by far," said Nancy Johnson, pantry executive director.
Last year the festival netted 10,300 pounds of food and $8,800 in monetary donations.
Johnson is hoping for an increase in food collected this year because demand for pantry services continues to increase.
"Unfortunately the need keeps increasing," Johnson said.
"We're having a whole different demographic of people," she said.
"We have people out of work, older people who are stretching money, people with medical bills, young professionals who can't get a job, plus the usual people who come to the pantry."
Last month the pantry served 252 families or about 830 meals, Johnson said.
"So over the course of the year we're providing over 100,000 meals for people," she said. "That's a lot. It takes a lot."
Rising food costs are impacting demand and Johnson expects the draught to stimulate need further.
"This is really important this year," she said. "We hope to get 12,000 pounds this year."
Money collected at the Sunday morning church services at the festival also goes to the Dublin Food Pantry.
The food and money collection has grown over the years, said Mary Jo DiSalvo, Dublin events administrator.
"Several years ago when we had a few Sunday services we just gave the money to an organization called the Children's Friendship Project of Northern Ireland," DiSalvo said.
Once the friendship project was eliminated the money went to different organizations before settling on the Dublin Food Pantry.
"Feeding families was a critical need and it remains a critical need," DiSalvo said. "The economy has not rebounded so they're still in need."
Bringing a nonperishable food item for festival admittance is popular among attendees, DiSalvo said. "They don't bring one can," she said. "They bring a bag of food."
And a bag of food is just what Johnson is hoping for.
"This is an extremely, extremely generous community," she said, noting that 90 people will volunteer their time to collect food at the festival, then sort and stock it at the pantry.
"People are very generous about volunteering. They're very generous with their food and money. It's a generous community."
Critical needs at the Dublin Food Pantry include items such as Hamburger Helper or Tuna Helper, beef stew, peanut butter, jelly, canned meat, pasta, oatmeal and cereal.
"Things that make a complete meal," Johnson said of the needs. "If they want they can bring toilet paper, toothpaste, diapers and feminine products."
For more information on the Dublin Food Pantry, look online at dublinfoodpantry.org.
For a complete list of Sunday, Aug. 5, activities at the Dublin Irish Festival, look online at dublinirishfestival.org.