Jamie and Jack


As Jack gets flak for having a job and still writing about food poverty….


So today, everybody is talking about Jamie Oliver and his rant about poor people (did he really say that?) who choose big tellies and chips over mange tout from the market.

I hope his mom has phoned him and given him a proper telling off. He flunked school and if it wasn’t for the fact that he had parents owned a pub and gave him the opportunity and encouragement to follow a food career, he too could be one of those poor people living on a diet of Kyle instead of Kale.

I like Jamie, I really do, he put his head over the parapet and criticised school dinners, got the government to increase the spend on school meals. Turkey Twizzlers were revealed to be made of pink slime and his books improved my husbands cooking.

He is a bit gobby, he gets angry when children are passed burgers…

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Tesco give us credit!

I saw this today and wondered what it was all about.

Tesoc Trussell Trickery

Then I saw this post on the Facebook Page of the Trussell Trust. And the penny dropped.

This is what the post says on their page.

Tesco Express‘ across the UK have food collection points for the next 4 weeks. Could you have a look at our ‘shopping list’ for foodbanks and add a few bits to your own?
This the conversation I had with them on their Facebook Page.
I then sent them a private message as I do not want to damage any fundraising effort of The Trussell Trust. I don’t. I did however tell them I was still going to blog about it. Please be clear this is not an attack on The Trussell Trust. It is also not an attack on Tesco although my cynicism is off the scale.
If I were to blame/attack anyone it would be this government. Seems like I am not alone as I found a link to this post on the Trussell Trust Page too. This is one quote from it.
I have news for Mr Davey. The number of people coming to my local Foodbank for help doubled overnight when the government’s latest ‘reforms’ kicked in at the beginning of April, including the cancellation of the ‘crisis loan’ programme.

Read more here, go on, it is good stuff. Foodbanks are not Big Society in action. They are the fingers in the dam plugging the hole, hoping the floodgates won’t open.

So back to the reasons why Tesco are doing this. Which phrase most closely matches your view?
How kind of Tesco to set up a collection point in their stores.
How clever of Tesco to set up a collection point in their stores.
This is food for people who are struggling to afford to feed families. Not in war torn, drought ridden countries but in the UK. People with jobs. People without jobs. People living in your town or village. And Tesco will profit from it. Despite what the Trussell Trust say.
Are people really only going to buy a tin of soup for a donation when they pop into Tesco Express?
What Tesco are hoping for IMHO is that they will get more customers going to Tesco Express and spending their money there. Even the post suggests, subliminally ‘do your shopping at Tesco and add a few of the items on our shopping list to yours…..’ yup, cynical me.
Horsemeatgate damaged a lot of supermarkets reputation and according to this article in The Guardian, Tesco, was the supermarket most heavily hit by the revelations of horsemeat scandal.
So what’s a marketing department to do when something like this happens? Say sorry, well they did that, now they have to re build the reputation. Oh, let’s look around and see what we can do, ah, let’s help a food bank and lots of nice middle class customers who have never bought a ready meal in their life may pop in and buy a tin for a poor person. And if we are lucky, the ‘while I ‘m here’ syndrome will kick in and they will pick up overpriced vegetables and a bottle of wine. Yay, more money for Tesco.
Result? Tesco and foodbanks are doing the job of the government. David Cameron can claim that Big Society is working.
At G8 delegates can tuck into violet artichokes, while others go hungry. The best blog you can read right now is A Girl Called Jack. She is currently reporting from the G8 conference for the Enough Food IF campaign.
Not much more to say really.
Apart from adding this.
Food Waste
food waste

Why Food Banks are not the solution

Save the Children announced this week that it has launched its first appeal to support UK children.

The BBC have also made this film about the growing demand on a food bank in Coventry.

A while back I wrote about Live Below the Line which is an initiative by The Global Poverty Project and Christian Aid to highlight what it is like to, well, Live Below the Line. I was so shocked at what they suggested to buy in order to stay within budget, which included a bag of 20 sausages for £1 and bargain sliced white bread at 47p. This prompted me to see exactly how little money I could feed myself on and still have a healthy balanced diet. I called it Not Living Below the Line.

So how are all these connected? Because I do not believe that Food Banks are the solution to food poverty. Learning to cook is.

Arlene Phillips is supporting the Save the Children campaign as she remembers her child hood where her mom have to make an eat or heat choice. I too remember having to eek out the one shilling for the gas meter, and frost on the inside of my bedroom window, but my nan managed to feed our family on what was probably a below the line budget, because she knew how to cook. She stretched meals. The leg of lamb on Sunday re appeared in a number of meals throughout week. And she never, ever threw food away.

It is shocking that in the UK that there are families that are not able to afford decent food. And many are families that are in paid employment, yet are in debt (and debt can happen for many reasons) or don’t earn enough to meet the rent, heat and food bills. Others are are on benefits (and none of use are immune from unemployment). And these families are having to choose to eat or heat. Everyday.

So if a food bank is not a solution, what is?

I love the old saying, ‘give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, give a man a rod and you feed him for life’. My modern version is ‘give a family a tin of soup and you feed them for a day, give a family a bag of lentils, carrots and onions, and cooking lessons, and you feed them for a week’. It’s less catchy of course but more relevant in an inner city, as a rod won’t help you much in Birmingham, even if we have more miles of canals than Venice.

When you consider the amount of food the average supermarkets throws away at the end of each day I have real sympathy for the freegan movement. Some have even suggested that we steal from supermarkets.

And the average family apparently bins £300 of wasted food a year. Mainly I suspect because supermarkets bombard us with BOGOF offers that are designed to make us spend more and buy more than we need.

Surely there is a way that charities and supermarkets can work together to reduce food waste? Can we provide not just food at the food bank but also an opportunity for families who feed their children chicken nuggets because the don’t think they can afford fruit and vegetables. Can we teach the art of cooking and families eating together?

And are food co-operatives, linking up with artisan bakers the way forward? What, I hear you say, artisan bread as a solution to food poverty? Hear me out. I am attending the launch Stirchley Stores who have joined forces with Loaf a community bakery and cookery school. This is I think the real way of tackling food poverty, providing affordable and ethical food and the knowledge how to cook it. The People’s Supermarket is another independent supermarket that is also taking on the big boys. I hope we see more of initiatives like this and less of the gigantic supermarkets that rip the heart out of the high street. Locally a group of moms who were fed up of not being able to buy organic food locally got together and formed their own food co-operative. The Bearwood Pantry sourced a provider a local baker and also buy from a local community led market garden.

So there are better solutions than food banks and I for one will not let up saying this. And we should be lobbying the supermarkets and the government to ensure that no child in the UK goes hungry.

I also thoroughly recommend you read these wonderful posts by two brilliant bloggers! http://dorkymum.wordpress.com/


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