NI social enterprise aiming to help food banks

Bamboo is used in the making of HICUP coffee cupsBamboo is used in the making of HICUP coffee cups
Bamboo is used in the making of HICUP coffee cups
As food bank usage across Northern Ireland continues to soar, a new local social enterprise is aiming to provide support through the sale of reusable coffee cups.

HICUP (HelpIng Communities cUP) is donating a £5 care package to a local food bank with every sale of their bamboo coffee cups and after just two weeks, have already handed over more than £500.

Initially partnering with Lisburn Food Bank but hoping to work with more areas in future, HICUP’s £5 donation is enough to provide a nutritious meal for a family of four. This is used directly by the food bank to purchase the particular items most required or perishable foods to add to their item donations.

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The Trussell Trust, which supports over 20 food banks throughout Northern Ireland, recently revealed that from April to September this year, 32,000 food packages were distributed, of which 12,000 went to children. That marks an astounding 80% rise on the same period in 2019 as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic begins to bite.

HICUP has been set up by Emma and Gareth HannaHICUP has been set up by Emma and Gareth Hanna
HICUP has been set up by Emma and Gareth Hanna

HICUP is aiming to encourage more people to get behind Northern Ireland’s food banks by giving them an opportunity to help those in need and get a Christmas present sorted all in one go.

By using bamboo for their coffee cups, HICUP is also hoping to help cut down the use of plastics and single-use takeaway cups. According to the latest government figures released in 2017, a whopping 2.5 billion coffee cups are used and thrown away in the UK every year, with less than one in 400 recycled.

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Emma Hanna, Director of HICUP, said: “Like lots of workers across Northern Ireland, my colleagues and I buy a tea or coffee every morning and used to take the single-use coffee cups from cafes. I thought it was a great opportunity to combine an environmental need with a social one and came up with the idea to sell reusable coffee cups while supporting local food banks in a ‘buy one, give one’ ethos. We have been overwhelmed by the initial reaction to our coffee cups as people are encouraged to support local people in need while doing their Christmas shopping. It’s just an honour to be able to provide some sort of help to our local food banks and everything they are doing for those currently in need.”

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Gareth Hanna, Director of HICUP, added: “More and more people seem to be waking up to the impact plastics are having on our environment. We’re trying to reduce our own plastic use more and more and it’s great to be able to encourage others to do the same. Even more than that, we’re honoured to be playing a part in supporting the amazing work of our food banks. It’s a disgrace that in the UK, one of the world’s richest countries, almost two million people were forced to rely on food banks to feed themselves and their families in the last year.

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