15th December, 2014

Feeding Your Community

By Jo Cooksey

This website is all about food, glorious food but we wouldn't be being responsible if we didn't consider those who are going hungry in this region. Indeed in the UK as a whole. Today, right now, there are people in your area that have not been able to feed their children or themselves.

Many children are going in to school hungry and their school lunch is the only decent meal they will get that day. This isn't happening in Britain's most deprived areas, it's happening everywhere. Within a nine mile radius of my own postcode there are twelve foodbanks. Since the start of the current recession the numbers turning to foodbanks have multiplied greatly. In 2010/11 61,000 people were given emergency help. In 2013/14, The Trussell Trust, Britain's largest foodbank operator estimate that foodbanks fed over 900,000, of which more than 330,000 were children. That is a huge increase and shows little sign of abating in the near future.

Currently there are 13 million people living in poverty in the UK, who even if they haven't yet had to use a foodbank, are struggling to make ends meet. That's one person in every five. They could be your neighbour, your colleague, your relative. Anyone from any walk of life. In order to pay their household bills the weekly supermarket shop seems to be one area that people keep cutting back on. Sadly, your local council and the utility companies aren't interested if you only have £10 to feed a family of four for a week after you've paid them.

At present foodbanks offer the people referred to them an emergency pack with a minimum three days worth of food. All items are non-perishable and relatively inexpensive but can make the world of difference to people. The reasons people struggle to feed themselves are many fold; from redundancy, divorce, to health problems and low incomes. The recent, disastrous changes to the benefit system have meant by far the biggest reason for asking for help is delayed payments. So what can you do to help? Firstly, buying locally grown and produced food puts and keeps local people in local jobs. You could find your local foodbank through the Trussell Trust website and donate to them. A couple of tins and a bag of pasta would be gratefully received. Many supermarkets now have collection boxes so you can add a couple of items in your weekly shop and then drop them in the box. Perhaps you could set up a collection box in your place of work and once it's filled drop it at your nearest foodbank? The comedian Jason Manford has been using the power of Twitter recently to urge people to donate chocolate Advent calendars so that children will be able to join in the fun of the approaching Christmas season. The little things that most of us take for granted mean so much to those who have so little.

Please let us know via hello@tastetoday.co.uk if you have helped out in your local community. We may feature your story here.

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