|Our food bank has a list of "in need" items|
Earlier in the year I took part in Live Below The Line and spent just £1 on food per day. My meals were far from nutritious and it was a real eye opener about food poverty not just abroad but happening here in the UK. I jumped at the chance to join forces with Money Supermarket with their retail royalty challenge and I chose to make a donation to my local food bank.
Food poverty scares me, I can see how quickly one could end up in such a difficult position and once your there it's an impossible situation. I have to confess to having a rather large food store of dried and tinned foods, my family joke about it being for the zombie apocalypse but for me it's about security. As a food blogger I spend most of my time thinking, food is my passion but what if the food ran out?
The fuel protest of 2000 happened when I started college, I was just becoming aware that the world did not revolve solely around me and was very impressionable. Across the country there was no petrol to be had, supermarkets could not get deliveries which resulted in food shortages, and schools and colleges were closed. It only lasted a few days but I was terrified at how quickly the country ground to a stand still and at our dependence of food suppliers.
Then I went off to uni and was your typical penniless student, it took me some time to manage my budget but I quickly learned that if money was tight the food budget was the easiest pot to borrow from. I lived pretty much exclusively on two meals, tinned tomatoes and pasta or frozen fish with spinach both with lots of black pepper. There were plenty of wonderful care packages from home which kept me going, I wouldn't compare it to food poverty but it gave me a glimpse of how things could be which is why now that I am able to, I set food aside "just in case". I'm afraid of being in a position where I would have to go without and my little store of tinned goods brings me a great comfort.
|The donation bin was empty|
I recently watched the Great British Budget Menu, celebrity chefs had to cook on a minimal budget. The idea being that they show that it is possible to cook nutritious meals on a basic budget. None of them managed it, completely defeating the purpose but at least the food poverty issue gained a prime time TV slot. One option open to people struggling to make ends meet was to visit their local food bank. I used to work for the government in the crisis loans department and when options were exhausted there would often be no help left other than the voluntary run food banks.
My local food bank keep a list of items in demand using this as a guide I set about writing a shopping list for the challenge. Pasta and sauce were high priorities. I also added ten tins of beans from my food store which were free with some vouchers earlier in the year and a 18 multi packs of crisps which I recently won in a twitter competition. The first problem that I encountered was transportation. I couldn't actually get to the food bank with the food during opening hours. I called them up and they advised that I could drop the food off at the local co-op supermarket. As I was going to be dropping the food off there I blew the whole £30 budget in the one shop. I had no luck wrangling a discount at any of the other supermarkets.
108 x bags of crisps (competition win)
10 x tins of beans (purchased with vouchers)
10 x 1kg bags pasta
10 x jars of pasta sauce
10 x tins kidney beans
A box of tea bags
Sadly the food donating bin at the store was empty when we arrived, if every shopper just added one item to the bin once a month it would make a huge difference. Our little haul filled it up a bit and it felt great to be making even a tiny difference.
I'd like to thank MoneySuperMarket.com for the £30 donation that made this possible.