Traditionally Northern Ireland people have been among the most generous per capita when it comes to helping developing countries stricken by famine or other disasters which have left their populations teetering on the edge of life.
While it can never be said that the province does not have enough food to feed its 1.8m population there is a shameful undercurrent of poverty which has left ever increasing numbers of families relying on charity for their daily meals.
Statistics released by the Trussell Trust reveals that it gave out 79,000 emergency food parcels in the year to March past, a horrendous 75% increase on the previous 12 months and a 200% increase on 2015/16.
It is clear that the coronavirus pandemic has played a major part in forcing families to seek charitable handouts. Lockdown, furlough and job losses have all reduced incomes and left many families literally on the breadline.
The concern, according to one expert, is that as Northern Ireland emerges from lockdown to some kind of normality the situation is likely to worsen rather than improve. It has been well signposted that many companies - Northern Ireland is an economy based on SMEs - will not survive the pandemic creating huge levels of unemployment.
However, the fact that families were depending on food parcels well before the pandemic shows there are systemic problems of poverty in the province. The pandemic has simply made the situation much worse.
We throw out huge amounts of food and every day supermarkets dump more, so the problem is not availability of food but the ability of increasing numbers of people to buy even the basic foodstuffs.
The problems are multi-faceted. Using free school meals as an indicator, the province has one of the highest levels of poverty in the UK. Another factor may be the inability of people made redundant or furloughed during the pandemic to keep up mortgage payments and the weekly shop.
It should be remembered that those seeking emergency food parcels are not just those regarded as the traditional poor but others of all social classes who have found their circumstances have changed dramatically mainly because of the pandemic.
That should be a warning to all of us that life is often full of surprises, and not pleasant ones in many cases.
The government is failing to feed its people. It must act to create a society where people don't have to rely on charity to put food on the table.