Thursday, 17 October 2013

Food banks - no recipe for a caring society

No recipe today. I want to talk about something much more important - food banks.

Two little words that conjure up much of what is horribly wrong in society right now. Please don't switch off - please read this. It matters.

How can it be that we are the 6th wealthiest nation in the world but millions of our citizens can't afford to feed themselves? Many of those going hungry are in work but simply don't earn enough to cover this most basic human need. Many are not working and don't have the money to eat because their benefits have been sanctioned for some reason or another, or payment has been delayed, or because they've had to spend their precious pennies on paying off debts or bills or bedroom tax instead.
More than half a million people in the UK are currently being referred to food banks by social services, GPs or churches. They get an emergency food parcel that will keep them going for a mere three days. Millions more are going hungry but haven't yet reached rock bottom enough to swallow their pride and ask for help. At the moment, food bank use has tripled in the last 12 months. A new food bank opens in Britain every 4 days. We are not a third world country but the Red Cross has started distributing food here to the starving for the first time since the end of the war.

It breaks my heart.

I shouldn't have to, but I consider myself extremely fortunate that I work. That I work enough to feed myself every day. That I earn enough to feed myself beyond the basics and am able to splash out on wine, organic rare breed steaks, obscure ingredients from delicatessens and other treats.

I shouldn't have to but I do because it could so easily be me. It could be any one of us if our circumstances change. In recession Britain many people are only a month's wages away from financial collapse. I have been poor and struggled to feed myself. It was a long time ago but I've never forgotten trudging from shop to shop checking prices so I could save a few pennies on a tin of beans. Once, I was skint enough and hungry enough to nick a pint of milk and a bag of bread rolls at 6am from outside a corner shop where the delivery guy had left them for the shop owner to collect when they opened up.

It was World Food Day yesterday around the world. Here it was being marked as a way to draw attention to the food poverty we have in the UK. Here are some articles you should read to find out the shocking statistics behind the headlines.

Food banks are testimony to the Tories' massacre of hope and dignity.

Food poverty is an attack on society.

The Nasty Party is back, sneering at food banks and those who use them 

Thanks for reading. If you have a few pennies to spare, next time you're doing the shop buy a little extra and donate to a food bank - you'll be helping someone not to starve.
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