Meath Street’s Little Flower puts its famous penny dinners on wheels

By Jane Byrne and Chris O’Flaherty

THE Little Flower, operating since 1912, serves 72,000 meals annually – including its famous penny dinners for poor and homeless people.

With the Meath Street premises closed and the volunteer rota cut in half because many of them are elderly, the centre can’t run its in-house meals or its laundry service. But it is still managing to get food out to the community.

“Usually people come in at lunchtime to avail of food, but because of the current restrictions, we’ve had to close our sit-down service and change it to a takeaway lunch hamper only,” says Ruth Harkness, general manager of Little Flower Penny Dinners.

“We also provide a meal on wheels service and we have seen a huge increase in that over the last few weeks. A lot of people have been housebound due to the virus and are beginning to use our service for their dinners,” she adds.

But Harkness can’t help noticing that because of the Covid-19 restrictions, there is a lack of human contact when delivering the meals.

“We can’t stop and talk to people when delivering the meals. It is especially hard because for some people this might be the only chat they’ll have all day – it is a really lonely time for some people.” 

Social media is some small substitute.

The Little Flower Penny Dinners has been keeping the community in the loop on its Facebook page. In recent years the Penny Dinners have moved online and Harkness says it has engaged hundreds of people and notified new people of the services. 

The Facebook page posts images of their staff, necessary updates and information and calls for support and donations. 

 The images of the staff working to deliver the meals attracts much favourable comments by members of the Dublin 8 community. 

User Linda Taylor writes, “amazing people, amazing staff and an amazing service to the community. Thank you to all the wonderful people who keep this much needed charity going.” 

Harkness told The Liberty that she would also like to thank everyone in the Liberties who has helped to support Little Flower and to also thank all the volunteers. You can go to Little Flower’s Facebook to support the charity and donate if you can.