Tales from the food bank (44)

by Rick Johansen

For some reason, there was no mention of food poverty at this year’s Conservative Party conference. There are several theories as to why this was, or rather wasn’t, the case. Some people think food poverty doesn’t exist and it’s all a woke conspiracy whereas others – and I include myself in this group – think the Tories simply don’t give a toss. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak showed in his leader’s speech in Manchester that he certainly doesn’t give a toss about people not having enough money to eat by simply not bothering to mention it. Well, why would he give a toss? He’s worth the best part of a billion quid and could end poverty all on his own if he wanted to, but instead he closes his eyes before walking away.

Our admin staff have really stepped up their efforts in recent weeks, not that they weren’t doing anything in the period before that, but in the light of increased demand and diminishing contributions, something had to be done. So, in October our food bank is collecting from 47 schools in the local area, which should make a real difference to our store cupboard which has been looking a bit bare in recent times.

We’ve certainly been busy this autumn so far and issued 589 emergency food parcels in September 2023. Food banks weigh everything in and weigh it all back out again and those parcels came to 13461 kilos. 1473 people, who would otherwise have had nothing to eat, had something to eat because of the kindness of people who donate to us. You can speculate all you like on what these people would have done had the foodbank not been there, but it’s fairly safe to assume that some people would have starved. Honestly, I don’t know how some people, politicians in this case, can live with themselves.

We were quite busy today with a wide variety of service users, one of whom was a full-time worker for a well-known international employer. I wasn’t allocated to see them, so I don’t know the full facts, but I understand they simply ran out of road after paying utility bills. They were wearing the uniform of said employer when they came to see us. If I was a senior manager of that company, which sells upmarket motorcars, I’d have been a trifle embarrassed to hear about one of my employees not having a pot to piss in. It certainly didn’t appear to be a good advert for the terms and conditions their staff ‘enjoy’.

Right at the end of today’s session, a couple of women appeared at the door, asking if we were still open, which we now weren’t. However, it turned out they weren’t there to collect an emergency food parcel, they wanted to donate a dog basket to us so we could give it to one of our callers who might need it. God knows how we’d know who wanted one, short of asking every caller, but what a lovely thing to do. Then, one of the ladies said to me, “Thanks for everything you do.” Well, that completely stumped me. No one’s ever said that before and anyway I don’t do compliments very well. I’m way deep into nothing special, but I’d like to think I’m making more of a difference to people’s lives than, say, Rishi Sunak.



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