It’s Friday, day 5 of our Breadline Challenge, and I’m beginning to reflect on the week.
As Hattie so articulately stated in her blog yesterday, (check it out here) one of the major things we have to keep remembering this week is that we’re not in this for real. For us, this isn’t life, and we can’t even begin to imagine how living in poverty must actually feel. The challenge has brought home to me just how far from poverty I am in my nice little student world. I generally consider myself pretty thrifty, and I don’t spend very much – but that’s not the point. I am never in a situation where I would genuinely go hungry, and I’m often pinching the pennies to keep money in my ‘post-university savings’ or to put towards going out for a nice meal at the end of the week. If I go slightly over budget, it’s not a matter of life and death.
I definitely approached this week with my middle-class, left-wing, idealistic, foodie head on. I was determined to continue to cook nutritious, interesting food, and not to resort to buying cheap meat or shopping in a way that I deemed ‘unethical’. I decided to make my own bread rather than buy a few cheap sliced loaves, and I spent about £7 on fresh fruit and veg. Cooking and food are one of my passions, and I didn’t want to lose out on the enjoyment I get from creating healthy, fun meals.
Retrospectively,I’ve realised that this was a pretty naive attitude. People who are really in food poverty need to eat to survive. It’s no good having fun cooking a great nutritionally balanced meal if you’ve had to cut down the quantities because you’re on a budget, and so still feel hungry afterwards. Having the option to choose to buy food because it’s locally or sustainably sourced rather than just because it’s cheap is definitely a privilege. And you can’t be snobby about sliced bread. Anyway, here’s my little homemade loaf:
The fact that so many people are now living in food poverty in the UK is astounding. It’s mad that in our developed country there are people struggling to eat. And it’s getting worse. If you want some good, solid statistics, check out this report on food poverty in Bristol from the city council here. FoodCycle is trying to help. Each week we cook up a hot meal in a community center in a deprived area of Bristol, using surplus food that would otherwise have been wasted.
This week has given us a tiny inkling of the way it must feel to have to rely on charities and food banks to survive, and it’s emphasised just how important the food we cook on a Sunday must be to some of those who come to eat. Please donate to FoodCycle here, so that we can keep up the fight against food poverty and food waste.