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The European rural model

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Training, work and local service:

The Duhallow Food Training Centre


With LEADER I support, the IRD Duhallow
agency in 1994 opened a "Food Training Centre"
which combines solidarity, economic development,
training, social and professional integration
and a service for the elderly. Word of its
success has spread and other centres have
opened elsewhere in Ireland.


"The first step, the hardest one, is to get out of the house and finally do something for yourself." Marie Fenlon, head of the Duhallow Food Training Centre likes to put it this way when she talks with her trainees: "our target group is women, often in difficulty, who have never worked outside of the house."

In 1993, as part of the EUROFORM programme, IRD Duhallow convinced the National Food Centre to offer a training course on food hygiene to ten small local businesses (producers of prepared dishes, caterers, suppliers of restaurants, etc.).

Encouraged by the operation's success - the 10 companies still exist and have expanded - the agency then decided to continue the action by creating a Food Training Centre with four incubator units and facilities for the organisation of training programmes of all kinds. LEADER I was going to enable the project's materialisation.

Opened in June 1994, the Centre lies in the heart of the village of Boherbue. It provides training on a permanent basis to ten trainees and each year produces about 5 800 prepared dishes, delivered daily over an area of about 25 kilometres by a network of thirty voluntary workers. A grant from the Health Board enables these meals to be sold at the modest price of EUR 3.5.

"The Food Training Centre started as a purely economic project but has evolved into a much more social concept because of the nature of its employees and the kind of customers it has," says Maura Walsh, director of IRD Duhallow. "We could even say that it provides a health service: a lot of elderly people live alone and no longer have the material and physical means to prepare nutritionally balanced meals. The Food Centre is supporting the current thinking on the elderly which is to enable them to remain in their homes while making sure they eat as healthily as possible."

Four other Irish LEADER groups have reproduced the model of the Centre in their area.



Area: 650 km2
Population: 25 475 inhabitants
LEADER II funding: EUR 5 869 000
EU: EUR 2 391 000
Other public funds: EUR 1 025 000
Private: EUR 2 453 000


c/o Maura Walsh, Manager,
James O'Keeffe Institute,
IRL-New Market (Co. Cork)
TÚl: +353 29 60 633
Fax: +353 29 60 694


source: LEADER Magazine nr.25 - Winter 2000/2001

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