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We need an inquiry into food banks: My column in today’s Guardian.

Food banks are not new, nor news. Commenters on all sides are quick to point out that they first sprang up under the last Labour government, but the need for them has increased dramatically since the introduction of the bedroom tax in April, and harsh sanctions for benefit claimants. The latest figures from the Trussell Trust show that demand for food banks is still increasing. In George Osborne’s ‘war on welfare’, the only casualties are those at the very bottom. But this is not a war. It is an assault against the unarmed, a massacre of hope and dignity.

Edwina Currie recently commented that she had “no sympathy” for food bank users, that they were just “rational” opportunists. I attempted to point out that food bank users had to be referred by a health visitor or social services or other agency for help, but she refused to hear it.

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Currie isn’t the only senior Conservative to perpetuate the myth that they are all just turning up to fill their boots with a few cans of dented tomatoes and a couple of black bananas – Lord Freud controversially stated that the demand for food banks was only so great because the ‘free food’ was there in the first place. Michael Gove blames feckless parenting and household financial mismanagement. I doubt any of them have been to a food bank and spent half an hour asking people why they are there.

Food banks are often the only port of call for some of the hardest to reach members of society, people who wouldn’t ordinarily ask for help, or for whom the thought of visiting their local council office to query why their housing benefit has been delayed or suspended is another thing on a to do list wracked with anxiety, instead stuffing the letter into the pile of final demands and bailiff threats.

In response to this, many food banks act as signposting organisations, with agencies on hand to offer help for the issues that led them to the door in the first place. There is practical help, such as courses for job skills, cooking classes, and recipe cards handed out for low cost nutritious meals. There are also child and family support, domestic abuse specialists, and benefit and debt advisers.

At the Conservative Party conference earlier this month, I was asked to address whether food banks were a good thing or a bad thing.

At the same event, an MP in Cambridgeshire stated that there were ‘only 565 food bank users in Cambridge’ justified as he mentioned the population of 82,000 people in his constituency – but what use are numbers? There’s ‘only’ half a million food bank users in the UK. Less than one per cent of the population. But what use are numbers, when you are one of the 565, not the other 81,000 or so? What use is a one per cent chance, when that one per cent is you? What sort of a society do we live in where people who go out to work every day to provide for themselves and their families cannot afford to do so, but their situation is justified in a statistic? Why was he not ashamed, that there are five hundred and sixty five people in his constituency that cannot afford to feed themselves and their families?

The existence of food banks, and the wide array of people that they reach and problems that they seek to resolve, is evidence of neighbourhoods coming together to meet a desperate need for over half a million people in the UK. It is evidence that there is still an element of community in an increasingly isolated and isolating society.

But the need for food banks, in one of the richest countries in the world, is a devastating testimony to the inequalities in our supposedly developed and forward thinking country. While the rich enjoy tax cuts, the poor are turfed out of their homes to pay for it. When the rich enjoy marriage tax breaks, the poor won’t even be able to afford the ceremony. While discussing worldwide poverty and hunger at the G8 summit earlier this year, our Prime Minister tucked into fillet beef and violet artichokes.

Is it just me, who thinks that this has been going on long enough? That food banks are no longer a shocking indictment of inequality, but have become almost normal? Because there’s nothing normal about a family in work that cannot afford to put food on the table for their child. There’s nothing normal about needing to beg for food. At the Conservative Party conference, one Tory peer called for an urgent all-party parliamentary enquiry into food banks. I just hope Currie, Freud and Gove are invited.

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe.

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55 replies »

  1. I want to know what the relationship is between people turning to foodbanks and sanctions benefits. How difficult is it for people to get referred to foodbanks and what happens to people who can’t get a referral when they need one? What about necessities like loo paper, washing stuff, tampons, nappies? (Can you think of anything worse than having a small kid and not being able to afford enough nappies?)

    What is the relationship between the need for foodbanks and the lack of proper taxation of the wealthy and the big companies? Also, who is making money from foodbanks? I’m very suspicious of the involvement of Tescos (tax dodger and workfare profiteer) in this new Red Cross initiative to feed people.

    I’d really like the answers to these questions. We add a few things for our local foodbank to the shopping list most weeks because we currently have enough to cover our needs, but I find it utterly disgusting that this is a necessity in the 7th or 8th biggest economy in the world.

    • I remember one time a man was referred to the foodbank and, in addition to his few bags of groceries, begged us for nappies – only we had none in his son’s size. His other child was very ill in hospital and the last thing this man needed was this indignity. The few packs we had were all too small. We had to apologise and say there were none. The pain in his eyes is something I will not forget. After that, I bought nappies.

    • At our last church service earlier this month, we had a member from our local Trussel “branch” (I don’t know what you call them). His figures were very interesting.

      He was there because the church school’s harvest festival produce was all to go straight to the local Trussel trust, some to a local homeless shelter, and a few bits & pieces to local folk who couldn’t get out any more.

      The facts and figures are all from memory by the way. The figures were also for the last 3 months.

      30% of referrals were down to benefits being late. 14% were down to changes in the benefit system, and the rest were not benefits related at all.

      Their use has increased 300%, but surely that can’t all be down to benefits changes.

      I was wondering if the reason that their use is increasing isn’t due to the fact that people need them – they have *always* needed them, but have done other things like shoplifting, stealing, going without to feed the children, *because they weren’t there*. Now that they are there, there’s an avenue available that doesn’t mean you have to steal or go hungry.

      When I was younger, (about SBs age) in the early 70s, we were lucky enough to have a garden, but dinner was often potatoes & veg from the garden. If we were lucky and the hens were laying, we’d have an egg too. A food bank would have been invaluable back then.

      I’d be very interested to see the results of any enquiry.

      I personally think it’s not just changes in benefits, but due to the wage increases (or not!) not being able to keep up with price rises. We’re lucky in that my wife who was effectively constructively dismissed from her last job (don’t go into teaching!) managed to find another one, stacking shelves in a local supermarket. Prior to this, we’d had the nice Sainsbury’s Organic shopping, then went to the cheaper supermarket, then another cheaper one still, then the own brand ranges, then the smart price and so on. I enjoy cooking, so managed to keep the bills down that wayn

      What made me laugh was the “Live on £1 for a day”. In terms of food shopping, that’s what we were doing, £1 per person per day, 3 meals. 2 adults, 2 children. Wasted food, what’s that?

      Handy hint: If you’ve got some live yoghurt, and some milk about to go off, mix a couple of tablespoons of yoghurt with the milk, and leave in a warm place. Cheap yoghurt!

  2. Good article Jack. As you have experienced, when faced with facts that don’t fit with their world view the Tory Party stick their fingers in their ears, and trot out a load of hoary old chestnuts straight from the pages of the Daily Mail. If politicians don’t want to discover the truth about the impact of the austerity cuts on the most vulnerable people in society, then they are either ignorant or heartless: in some cases both.

    • I’m not a celebrity blogger, i’m a food and politics blogger. It’s where I started and it’s where I stayed…. ‘Celebrity’ bloggers are usually too busy writing about their free handbags and holidays to bother with the grass roots and ground work.

    • If Jack was a celebrity blogger, she would be the only celebrity I would encourage my children to aspire to be like.

      Its the politicians who have helped put people in this situation and they clearly have no intention of helping them back out again. They shouldn’t be left to do anything.

    • You do know how this “politics” thing works, right? Everyone having the right to voice an opinion, seeking to influence others, freedom of speech? No? And who the hell are you to tell others what they can and cannot say on their own blog, anyway?

  3. Don’t know how the Red Cross initiative will work, but I know that Tescos have not made money out of the foodbank collections they have made to date. The foodbanks report to them how much they have collected and Tescos give them vouchers to spend in store for an estimated 30% of the value.
    our local foodbank will use these vouchers during the year to top up stocks and at Christmas to buy extras for our clients

  4. Jack, please DON’T run for Parliament. It is a corrupting place born of a corrupt system, and the only place your/our opposition makes any sense is outside it. Opposition to the remoteness of our politicians can only be countered by our preparedness to act in the micro-political arena, to organise ourselves, to act in such a way that all their vaunted policies and laws become a total irrelevance.

  5. Decades ago, Ronald Reagan claimed that the only Americans going hungry were those who couldn’t locate the supermarkets. So, there are politicians more deluded & out of touch than Evilina, but they are dead Yanks.

  6. Fortunately there are a huge number of people who are voting with their tins and making a difference to those who need the tins. It is called generosity. Can some one please mention this in a blog/article about food banks? It may just help Gove and the like that the food in banks comes from real life voters.

  7. Jack, you talk so much sense. Keep doing it, please. Your profile gets higher and higher and you are making a difference. How Tories can do it and look themselves in the eye is a total mystery.

  8. I live in a council flat and in the 1980′s when the propert market girst went wild and markets crashed and keys to homes were handed back. I was homeless for nearly two years and sofa-surfing or sun-letting briefly when they aent on holidays.

    And so I have had an insider view. There ARE exploiters. There are people who exploit opportunity and con those referring them to food banks and some research is needed to quantify this.

    But Edwina is turning logical suspicion into established fact. How many DO still have Sky TV, holidays, drugs and cars, an expensive cigarette habit that costs twice your weekly food bill?

    How many are in council housing and supplementing benefits with going out on the beg in the street. A neighbour of mine has been seen doing it. And there is no bedroom tax in that person’s life.

    Another in my bldg used to put round notes saying purse lost, needs to borrow…. And never repaid those she conned. She’s stopped it now or been stopped. No bedroom tax problem there either.

    Drug and alcohol addicts needing every penny to buy gear may well be in food bank need and getting referred to them and this needs to be established and looked at as figures can be skewed i these ways.

    But family break ups andgirls not in stable relationships or married but having needy children and in b&b are a growing homelessness problem along with those priced out of renting and not able to gain social hsing accommodation.

    Edwina will have NO idea of what life is like for them and how badly THEY need the food banks.

    But is it any kindness to help drug addicts and alcoholics and professional beggars (they ARE FOR REAL) by supplementing their incomes with food bank access?

    Exploiters mask and cost the genuine dearly in terms of respect and understanding.

    • People who exploit exist in EVERY walk of life. Just as some dishonest people will exploit charity and benefits, so too will politicians exploit expenses and large businesses exploit tax loop holes. Regardless of this, the people who need it most will always need it most and whilst most charities will feel frustrated by those who exploit them, they will also continue to do what they do so long as what they do reaches the people who need it the most.

      A TV show ran this week “on benefits and proud”… next weeks is “shoplifting and proud”! (love how they bill benefits claimants next to shoplifters there). They picked 5 of the most abhorrent benefits abusers that fitted every stereo type you could imagine and set them up to entertain the far righters and cloud the judgement of the uninformed. Not one disabled person living on benefits, not one elderly person, not one single mother working full time on minimum wage. The truth is that yes there are lazy people and those that will abuse the system… that happens from the bottom of society right to the top… except at the bottom you talking about tins of beans and at the top you’re talking about 100′s or 1000′s of £’s… but that is such a small percentage of the people who access these services. Monitor, investigate it, by all means… but don’t lose sight of the people who actually need it

    • sorry, i wasn’t really ranting at your comment so much then, I know your real concern was for the honest people. I just get frustrated when the small minority of dishonest people distract from the greater cause.

      …and also, even addicts need to eat. It sucks that the money they have is spent on their addiction, believe me, I could spend it wiser MANY times over, but sometimes the greatest charity is that given without any judgement at all.

      • Yes so much to your first paragraph. There doesn’t need to be investigations on those cheating the system because all it does, time and again, is screw the needy. I don’t care if there are chancers and liars, so long as everyone who needs it is getting enough food and a roof.

        The alternative is those in need not having enough because of inflated perception and figures about “cheats”. And alcoholics and addicts also deserve food and homes, not judgement. Withholding these basic things certainly doesn’t make an already mammoth task of getting clean (if it is what is wanted by the individual) easier.

  9. In the US anyone can go to a food bank…no referrals needed. Some will abuse it, but the majority are truly in need.
    A few churches offer free clothing days, as well. And there is always other help on offer. It is hard in a rural/semi rural area as this as nothing is in walking distance and access to foodbanks is impossible without a car or at least a ride. No busses in most areas of the US.

    • Depends on where you are in the USA. Where I am you have to have a referral and depending on the time of year you may or may not get one.

  10. Anybody using a Food bank has been humbled into doing so and tries to be as dignified as they can be, as they wait their turn….anybody who is so lonely and lacking in Family support ,that the Food Bank is treated as a regular social trip ,because it is there, as opposed to a hunger need, is needy themselves in a different way to hunger and the Food Bank enables them to also receive the additional Support Services, usually attached to the Food Bank.

    It is unkind to judge anybody’s right to be at the Food Bank. If you need it ,you need it …end of. Thank God for it and the wonderful supporters both in direct involvement and backroom staff that distribute items.

    ‘There for the Grace of God go I’, springs to mind …as a reminder to anyone who dares to criticise a Food Bank or its users.

    By the by Jack, new Food Bank is opening in Southend on Sea on the 1st November at Belle Vue Baptist Church. Run by the Trussell Fund.

    Well Done as always Jack, for tirelessly campaigning to encourage awareness and compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves .

  11. Comments made by the likes of Edwina Currie make me ashamed to live in this country. The sheer ignorance that her remarks are testimony to are appalling. The lack of compassion towards the most vulnerable in our society is heartbreaking. When did we, as a nation, cease to care for those in need and when did we become so judgemental.

  12. I try not to get too enraged by Currie, as she’s a professional attention seeker. She has to spout controversy. That’s all she has left. The Tories can’t understand anything altruistic – anything being provided solely for the common good must be being screwed by someone else for personal gain. They see a reflection of their own nature in everything.

  13. I look at the figure of “only 565″ foodbank users in the Cambridgeshire MP’s constituency and wonder how many of them represent individuals, and how many represent families. I sincerely doubt they are all single indiviuals with no dependents. I also sincerly doubt the MP in question has looked into foodbank use in his area – far easier to wield the “strivers v skivers” meme and try and distract people.

    Why on earth are more MPs not ashamed, shocked and speaking out at the levels of food poverty in the UK today?

  14. “High quality fresh food” – there is no fresh food usually – it’s all tins and packets of value products (judging by the food bank shelf in my local Tesco). Does she really think that we get quail & venison with a side of asparagus?

    The nearest food bank is about 10 pounds worth of bus fare away from my home. I needed one two years ago (wrongly calculated benefits) and couldn’t get there – if I had that tenner, I would have just bought the food myself.

    In my opinion, the demand for food banks is rising because:
    - more are being open and therefore people who previously had no access to one can finally ask for the help they need
    - they receive more publicity and people are becoming aware of the help available
    - falling living standards across the board

    The government wants to see food banks as part of the workshy scroungers’ lifestyle choices. No amount of facts and statistics is going to change their minds.

  15. Yet again politicians showing their ignorance before checking the facts. I too was a little unsure about how the foodbank’s worked so when the opportunity arose to go to a meeting about setting one up in my town I went along and was “reassured” to discover the strict controls that are made to ensure that only the people who really need help get it and that steps are taken to try and help these people resolve the longer term needs. So I signed up as a volunteer helper although I’ve only been needed so far on a couple of occasions. Having on several occasions in the past made a late night trip to the supermarket to fill up a trolly of essentials when family members were struggling I was always conscious that even though I had a very well paid job it wasn’t right for me to live an extravagant lifestyle or drive an expensive car. When I lost my job suddenly I realized how quickly circumstances can change. We have been blessed in that with a bit of hard work, financial reorganization, imagination and careful planning we have been able to go 4 years without me having to return to work even though the budgets are tight we have made cuts and yet eat better quality meals on less than half what we used to spend, I realized that we could so easily have needed this help ourselves. Another thing I learned through volunteering with the local foodbank is that many low income families struggle through the school holidays as they are dependent on school meals so our foodbank packed about 300 extra bags for the schools to pass on to these families last christmas and summer

  16. I can believe, as someone has already pointed out, that there are those who abuse the Food Banks that are available, but I don’t doubt for a single second that they are also frequented by people who need them, who would face going hungry, or worse still, their families going hungry without that help. If I lost my job tomorrow, my partner and I would face the choice of being homeless, or jobless, so whilst things may be tight as are, whilst we can afford to eat, we can also afford to donate to food banks- we try and donate the equivalent dry goods we buy once a month, and I’ll be finding something to give up for a donation also.

  17. A few folks have asked good questions about the kind of person who uses a food bank.

    Some back story on me I have worked at a local domestic violence shelter, I grew up in an impoverished home with a widowed mother who was a very ill diabetic who chose to feed the children she was left with (with no pension at first) or get her insulin, she fed us. I have most of a collage education but dropped out to tend a very ill spouse (going back next year, I am now a widow). Ironically I now have a son and am a diabetic and a widow. Lucky me I have not had to pick insulin or food but I know which one I will pick.

    The average person who uses a food bank in the US fits in to one of 4 demographics.

    1. Elderly and they can’t make it on the average ssi benefit of 650 dollars and 10 food stamps they qualify for a month. If you open their pantry (if they have one) you will find cat food (even if they do not have a pet), tuna, peanut butter and roman noodles. The buy quick cooking (or microwaveable ) food and often have no fresh or frozen fruits or veg in their house. (It is not easy to cook or eat when you are elderly. ) This person probably came to the food bank by bus and returns home by the same. Often they only get out 3 -4 times a month and the food bank and church are their only times they see anyone. When they get to week to carry food from the food bank you stop seeing them. This often leads to decline and death of the elder.

    2. Single father, single mother or small family where the wage earner just lost their job. Often with an infant or toddler or pregnant mother in tow. Sometimes you have a sandwich generation because the wage earn is just like you and me. Taking care of mom and or dad and kids and working. It is estimated in the USA that 50 percent of the population is pay check to paycheck and one pay check from the streets. Miss more than 1-4 days of work due to illness (flu ) or cronic condition (like diabetes) or a sick child and your job is gone . Under nutrition in the infant toddler and pregnant mothers is common in this high risk population. In this demographic you see folks who look like they are a ok, but have issues from joblessness to illness.

    3. The permanently disabled. From folks with mental illness that prevents working to physical disabilities. They are stuck in the same boat as the elders. SSI benefits of 650 or less and 10 dollars or less in food stamps. (Some may get higher benefits but most get lower.) These benefits in the USA are not automatic and if you did not pay into the ssi system for 6 quarters (a year and a half to 2 years) before being declared disabled you as an adult will not qualify for ssi as a general rule. Some times the food bank is the only food source for the disabled client. Most food banks provide for a family of 1-3 one bag (brown grocery bag) of food a month this includes 6-12 cans of canned vegies with one or 2 cans of fruit (apple sauce and or canned fruits, a bag of pinto beans , a bag of rice, sometimes canned or frozen meat (about 1 pound). Enough for a family of 3 for 2 days of reg cal meals. If you have to stretch it for 7 days it is hard if you have to streach it for 30-31 impossible.

    4. The folks most would call deadbeats. The single and no jobbers or the moms with multi kids who come to the food bank week after week after week. Or the fill in the blank. However I do say if someone is asking for help, esp food help and you have the means to feed them.. Feed them or give them food. For no matter where you think they are if they are asking for food they NEED it.

    General Experiences that I have had at food banks: I have been to a food bank and it is not easy to ask for food. AT ANY TIME. I have been preached to, told I would go to hell, told I was a sinner (many of these are in church basements in the USA and pregnant and unmarried in the deep south even at 40 and sick I can tell you I wanted to stay home not have a nice 90 year old lady tell me I was going to hell, and my son was a bastard in G-ds eyes of course.) I have had to sit though sermons and fill out 5 page questionnaires (this is common ) that include my social security number. I have had to stand in line in 90-120 degree weather 6 months pregnant for over 2 hrs or worse in driving rain (if you leave your spot you have to wait at the back of the line) with a preemie (I put him and dad under the churches canopy, if dad stood in line I would have to go to the back of the line when He got to the front because the household allotment was in my name so I have to pick it up which meant I had to stand in line. .) Funny enough NO one has asked us to come to church and every time I have brought up wanting to go to a church that has the food bank a funny look comes over the intake worker’s face and they suggest “I might be more comfortable somewhere else”. Guess I am good enough to feed but not good enough to fellowship with.

    Food banks for me are the panty is bare and I have a kid to feed and I am not going to worry about my pride.

  18. There are a couple of recent and comprehensive reports which will equip people with the actual facts: ‘Walking the Breadline’ prepared by Church Action on Poverty and Oxfam and ‘The Lies we Tell ourselves about Poverty’ – ending comfortable myths, prepared by Methodists, URC, Baptists and Church of Scotland. There are summaries and full reports which can be distributed.

  19. Food banks are not new but in the news. Is there a national listing of their location ? I cannot find one ad would give to it regularly.
    Help !

  20. There are areas that supermarkets won’t set up in. Areas that are full of council housing or whatever that have no food shops. I once read an article on this. And never forgot it.

    A workshyscrounger in a comment here speaks of needing to spend £10 on bus fare to get to the nearest food bank.

    Jack, this is a food poverty issue you could look at sometime too. All neighbourhoods once had greengrocers. In the pre-war era vans drove round selling from them. My mother remembers wheelbarrows of herrings being wheeled through her village when she was growing up before WW2.

    ‘Progress’ has centralised everything and marginalised vast numbers in the process and food suppliers don’t care.

  21. A SLEAFORD food bank claims a ‘dramatic increase’ in families finding themselves at crisis point is set to continue as it appeals for donations.

    Sleaford’s New Life Community Larder is an independent food bank, started in 2008 by Rod and Alice Munro with the support of local churches and schools.

    Pupils at St George’s in Ruskington held a non-uniform day to collect tins for Sleaford Larder which is reporting huge increases in people seeking help.

    So far this year it has seen a 90 per cent increase on last year in the number of people it has helped with 950 adults and children seeking emergency supplies of food.

    And the charity says it expects the increase to continue as poorer families struggle to cope in the wake of welfare reforms.

    Rod, said: “We know that there are families and individuals out there who are already stretched and it only takes one thing to tip them into crisis.
    “No one wants to see children go to bed hungry in this day and age, but that is what is happening. We are not talking here about a developing country. This is right on our doorstep, affecting ordinary people in and around our local community.
    “People assume a lot of things about food banks but they are there to provide short-term help to those who need them. For example, if someone loses their job and faces a period of time before they receive benefits or who cannot work due to sickness and has no money coming in.
    “We do not aim to make people dependent on the food we can provide, therefore we will also spend some time listening and signpost people to the appropriate service for long-term help.”

    The food bank aims to give three days’ supply of food to help a family or individual during a crisis and receives referrals from agencies such as social services and the Citizens Advice Bureau.
    Food donations are being sought for the Sleaford’s New Life Community Larder which is expecting to provide more than 9,000 meals to the people of Sleaford and North Kesteven in 2013.

    Annie said: “We are seeing more people experiencing food poverty, and the current austerity measures means that people have fewer options than in the past. Life is very tough for some and is getting tougher all the time.

    “Since April, many people referred to us report that they are struggling to live on the money they have and it is getting worse due to the changes in the welfare system.

    “We don’t want people to think families who use a food bank are scroungers. Some people are living on such a small amount of money and it is not just those on benefits. Families on low wages are also really feeling the pinch.”

    The food bank is appealing for the support of local supermarkets, food manufacturers and individuals to help it meet the growing need.
    Financial donations can be sent to the New Life Centre on Mareham Lane to help purchase additional items like nappies, baby milk, baby food and toilet rolls which are in great demand.

    Call 07912 746512 or visit http://www.communitylarder.co.uk

  22. A TV documentary about the Trussell foodbanks that was broadcast last year showed some of the applicants as rather less needy than the target group – some smokers, most with smartphones, 7 seater cars, plasma TV, multiple large dogs… It’s understandable that those shown to enjoy material possessions that some of us who work 60 hours a week can’t possibly afford, attract resentment and generate contempt when they say they can’t afford food. It would have attracted more sympathy, surely, to have followed the genuinely needy?

  23. You do know that lowering the higher rate tax threshold from 45% to 40% raised more money not less right? Probably why labour had it at 40% for almost their entire time in office? And only raised it to 45% so they could shout ‘nasty tories’ after they lost the election? And perhaps people can’t earn a living wage and put food on the table because their wages are held down by ridiculous levels of immigration from poorer countries in the eu – another thing labour didn’t seem to give a toss about when they were in power.

    I like your blog and agree there’s a lot going wrong in this country but just shouting about it all being the fault of the conservatives is just annoying.

  24. I think we can all agree Edwina Currie is a complete cow.

    However I think you are misrepresenting Gove. Some people end up at food banks because their benefits are late – that’s a disgrace and needs to be addressed. However some people do end up at food banks because they live chaotic lives and lack vital skills with money, cooking etc. Should we just ignore that aspect? Let them hit crisis point month after month and just give them emergency handouts? He was making the point that food banks are part of a bigger picture and where people need help with things like money and budgeting etc they should be able to get it. I don’t see why when the government is at fault e.g. with benefit delays we must rush to fix it but ignore all the other reasons why people are where they are. Splitting along tribal lines just means people cannot talk about anything properly without being shouted down by the opposing side. and I’m sick of it.

    • I’m afraid that no amount of budgeting advice can teach a single jobseeker under 25 on £56.80 per week to budget for gas, elec, water, council tax, bus fares, phone and food. It’s the food bank or starve.

      I’m a debt advisor and people simply cannot make ends meet on JSA or ESA.

  25. Reblogged this on Sundry Times and commented:
    We support food banks through the local church. It is noticeable how much their use has gone up even in the few months we have been supporting them. I am sharing this post because it says what others have said: food banks demonstrate a good community spirit in the face of poor government policy.

  26. Lots of people didn’t know food banks exist before. Publicity has meant there use has increased. Like non-means-tested benefits, who dosn’t want something for nothing. #notatroll #greatwork #keepitup #justsaying

  27. Hi! I read an article about you in a periodical called Business Spotlight. I use it to teach English to adults in Germany, but I was so absorbed by what I read that I forgot to use it! I was determined to read your blog. I’ve since passed it on to my friends. I’m an American living overseas, so I don’t know much about the UK’s political system. However, this article spoke to me as a member of the working poor and a humanitarian. I’ll continue to spread the word about you. Best of luck!

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