Food banks; another personal perspective.
This is just another story and one that will be familiar to many of us. In a nation which is one of the richest in the world, people still go hungry and now depend on charities to get food. The Trussell Fund fund helped 128,687 people last year, this year it expects to feed more than double that number. This is a story of one of these statistics and there are many more like her.
My friend G. started using her local food bank two weeks ago. She felt ashamed to have to ask for food. She was given a yellow voucher by her Community Psychiatric Nurse who could see she was struggling. G felt so ashamed having to ask for help but with no family and not wanting to rely on friends she decided to go She asked me to go too for some support and to see what a visit to a food bank was like.
We went along last week to the food bank. It is in a church in the big town G. lives in. She had to knock to get in and was met by a volunteer who brought her in. It was extremely busy there were about twelve other people there. The volunteer who was kind offered us a cup of tea. She spoke to us about hard times and how we were loved. The food bank was their way of showing practical support.
The manager came down with two bags of groceries. She explained each was meant to last a person three days. There was pasta, rice, tinned tomatoes, and fruit. Bizarrely they also contained a jar of marshmallow fluff. Food that described itself as “artificial” and was made from 100% corn oil. It reminded me of being back at school and being asked by the teacher to bring in some tins for the “old people” who we made up hampers for at Christmas. In my household like many others my mum used to search the back of the cupboard for something like a tin of pears that had been there awhile. This bag brought those memories back. They also gave my friend some cleaning materials and toiletries.
All of the volunteers were kind people and they are meeting such an unmet need. There’s is a Christian message they even asked my friend if they could pray for her which she politely declined. As long a she remains in need she can go to get a golden ticket once a week for a supply of three dates. For many though having to rely on a charity is embarrassing. The trussell fund only give three days of food as there’s is a message on self reliance and not making people dependent. The question they should ask is who is why is there such a need today and who makes people have to ask for handouts. There were people using Food Banks before the condemns came to power but the numbers using them have quadrupled since. We know have people living alone with little energy to fightback. Getting by living on processed food, the only entertainment being the media with their oh so biased news coverage and spin on everything it is panem et circens my friend.
My friend is poor not because she is “feckless” as the condemns would have us believe but a victim of circumstances that can affect us all. I know some people reading this will have used a food bank. Why should this be seen as Christian? What should we do to help ensure such places along with soup kitchens are just a scene in a Dickensian novel. By looking at he small things and offering support perhaps we can tackle the problems of the bigger picture too.