Food banks are the most severe indictment of our society, there are no two ways about it.
And before you send me to Hades for shaming users of food banks, let me clarify – using foodbanks is not what I find objectionable but their very existence. Call me old fashioned, but I believe that everyone should have enough food, shelter, and the dignity of a secure albeit basic lifestyle in the UK of the 21st century.
This is not the case. Over the last five years, the use of the food banks the Trussell Trust supplies has increased by 123%. Let me say this differently – in the last five years, the use of food banks has more than doubled. Close to a million emergency food parcels went to children.
Some would let us believe that food banks are ‘just getting popular’ because they offer free food. Not so fast! According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, 67% of the people in relative poverty lived in a working household in 2019-2020.
That, friends, means that thinking along the lines of ‘the deserving’ and ‘the undeserving’ poor no longer applies. (It is another matter that such a distinction was probably never a good one anyway.)
It is wrong to keep people who are (temporary) out of work on the bread line. It is an economic, social, and moral scandal to keep people in work in poverty.
There is a long-term solution to that – pay a living wage and provide appropriate support to people hard on their luck. (Go on and call me a socialist – if that means that I stand by my belief that working people should earn a living wage and people out of work should have enough to focus on finding work rather than their next meal, so be it!)
In the meantime, we must do what we can to support our less fortunate brethren through the hard times. A way to do that is to support food banks.
How to support food banks?
A couple of weeks ago a neighbour called at our house, holding a basket with a couple of tins of baked beans. She was collecting items to take to the local food bank.
What do you think I did?
I politely explained that I can’t contribute to the collection.
I am not heartless, and I want to help. A direct contribution of items to a local food bank is certainly a way to alleviate the food crisis.
What is the problem?
Bluntly put, I don’t believe that well off people collecting items for people in food crisis helps anything – the food bank would end up either having a lot of low-cost items with dubious nutrition value (baked beans) or having useless stuff like dried shitake mushrooms or something.
I have absolutely no idea what someone in a food crisis needs and I admit this openly.
What I can do to help is contribute money to the charities that supply food banks.
In the last ten years, John and I have made accidental contributions to the Trussell Trust. A year ago, we decided that we would make a regular monthly contribution.
In brief, there are three ways to contribute to the food banks in the UK:
- First, you can donate items directly to your local food bank. It is wise to check with the staff what do they need before delivering pasta and baked beans.
- Second, you can contribute a regular amount of money to the Trussell Trust who supply and run approx. 43% of the food banks in the UK.
- And third, you may check out your local church networks, and enquire how you can help.
Helping our communities is about our humanity
Please get involved and give generously.
Your children can do without a mountain of Christmas presents. But there are many people out there whose children may not get a Christmas meal.
Looking after people who are less fortunate than us is a sign of our humanity.
That is why we have set a monthly direct debit to the Trussell Trust.