Live Below the Line. Planning to fail.

School Meals Time

School Meals Time (Photo credit: coreycam)

Never Seconds is a brilliant blog about school meals that has made headlines in the UK. Move over Jamie Oliver! however much he tells parents and children that most school meals are crap, the power of a 9 year old blogging makes the front page. Take a look to see what £2 gets you in a state school in England.

Some kids from lower income families are entitled to free school meals, yet there is low take up of these, in some of the most deprived areas. Why is this? Perhaps because what they get is really poor quality food and the parents would rather make a packed lunch for them. Or that they don’t know that they are entitled to a free meal. Or that the stigma of having to claim is upsetting and that the children may get bullied if they are on free dinners.Some go home to eat but many go to the local fast food outlet. I don’t really understand how families who live below the line can afford to turn down a free lunch and I would urge anyone who is entitled to free school meals to claim them. I would also urge all of you to lobby get behind people like Jamie Oliver who campaigns to improve the quality of school dinners.

Have you turned down free food this week because you were taking part in Live Below the Line?

Free Lunch!

Free Lunch! (Photo credit: LexnGer)

Can families in the third world afford to turn down handouts of food. What about food banks? Do they solve a problem or are they just a sticking plaster?

So now is my confession time.

Confession 1. I accepted a free lunch on Thursday. I was attending a training event at SCVO and there was a buffet which I indulged in.  This would certainly take me over the £1 a day allowance if I had been sticking to it.

Confession 2. I had already spent £1.20 on a sausage sandwich for breakfast at the Bookworm Cafe in Smethwick Library .

Confession 3. Due to lack of planning and communication there was no dinner ready that evening at my house. Takeaway curry it was then.

Chicken balti from Delta Indian Takeaway, Edin...

Chicken balti from Delta Indian Takeaway, Edinburgh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Total spend on food for just me, on Thursday 9 May was a staggering £8.20, not including the free lunch! #fail

The reality is that to eat well on a limited budget is that planning ahead is crucial. Failing  to plan, is planning to fail. Plan what you will be eating and when, check what you already have in the store cupboard and make a shopping list and stick to it. Check out the cheapest place to buy food, and buy seasonable fruit and veg. Eat meat free as often as you can.

It was lack of planning that resulted in the sausage sandwich and the curry.  I did enjoy it though! I also realise how lucky I am to be able to make these choices that people, who have to live below the line, every day, don’t have.

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About Travelling Coral

I started blogging in 2011 to record some of the highlights of the round the world trip I made with my husband Phil. On the 5 month trip we visited California, New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Malaysia and Thailand. We met some fantastic people, saw amazing things and ate some lovely food. Yet while enjoying these new experiences I became acutely aware of the inequality in both first and third world countries. The gap between the rich and the poor on the streets of LA and KL was the same. On my return home, I realised that this inequality existed in the UK. I had to leave the country to see it for what it was. Food banks were opening in every town and city. I read the now famous blog, A Girl Called Jack and got more interested in how food poverty impacts the lives of so many people in my home country. And I got angry. And wanted to do something about it. Now, I work for Smethwick CAN, a charity bringing people together to tackle poverty, increase aspiration, provide opportunity and support the most vulnerable. One of the projects is a foodbank. Food poverty is shocking in any country, yet over a third of edible food still ends up in landfill. No one should go hungry, yet children are going to school without breakfast. Parents are skipping meals to feed their children. Foodbanks are a sticking plaster not a cure for food poverty. So, in addition to working for a charity that is supporting people in crisis, I volunteer for The Real Junk Food Project. They intercept food that would normally be thrown away, and cook it and serve it in a Pay as You Feel Cafe. I am still adjusting to life back at home in Birmingham, England, I have terminal Farsickness. To keep it at bay, I drag my husband and sometimes the son on shorter trips both in the UK and overseas. I now post random stuff that interests me. This includes travel, food and well being. The writing keeps me sane. Long term travelling is my goal.

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