Day 16: Live below the poverty line – £1 a day

  • Breakfast: porridge + office milk
  • Lunch: skeleton soup + no bread
  • Dinner: parsnip (4p reduced) made into roasted chips and chilli (tinned)
  • ‘Treat’: apple, chocolate buttons from Nicki’s tuck box

It’s all hands to the mill today and work flies by. Before long it’s evening and I’ve pulled together a motley crew to come along with me to visit The Trussell Trust food bank in Salisbury.

We are met by the smashing Monica Wilson, volunteer coordinator and Louise Wratten, Food Bank Manager. Louise is energetic and thoroughly passionate about her cause, there is nothing she doesn’t know about the work of The Trussell Trust or where to find an elusive expiry date!

The food bank houses around 20 tonnes of food and it is like an Aladdins den…  Food is donated by members of the public and then sifted and sorted into categories by volunteers, which is exactly what we’re here to do today. Louise briefs us on the best methods and we’re off, it takes us a wee while to get our bearings (not helped by a lawyerly debate over the definition of what constitutes a ‘snack’) but before long we’re beavering away on a little production line!

Some of us littler than others… 

Key items are beans, soup, pasta, cereal and tea but all sorts are donated from chocolate selection boxes to pies to baby rusks to pilchards. Apparently someone once donated a bag of chicken’s blood – an aperitif to my skeleton soup perhaps?!

I’m intrigued to see what goes into a client box and Louise kindly provides me with a sample list and menu for three days. The packs have been compiled with input from a nutritionalist to provide optimum balance on a budget.

Cereal and soup feature heavily as do beans, pulses, rice and tinned meat. Biscuits and puds are not something I’ve yet dabbled in and I now have a few ideas for the week. If I can make their three day singleton menu work within my budget I am up for giving it a spin.

Referrals are made to the Trussell Trust by frontline care professionals such as doctors and social workers who identify people in crisis and issue a food voucher. These individuals receive three days of nutritionally balanced, non-perishable food in exchange for their food voucher.

It’s fantastic to see so much food which has been kindly donated but it’s also frightening to realise just how much organisations like this are clearly relied upon, with the trend set only to increase.

Rising food and fuel prices, static incomes, underemployment and changes to benefits are some of the reasons why increasing numbers are being referred to foodbanks like The Trussell Trust for emergency food.

Benefit delays are one of the most commonly cited problems, I read an article in the Huffington Post which rightly pointed out that Wonga is easier than accessing emergency welfare support – “£100 in one minute versus a whole day in some cases filling out forms”. 

Whatever you might feel, foodbanks certainly do a lot of good – helping prevent crime, housing loss, family breakdown and mental health problems. I’m raising funds for The Trussell Trust as part of my challenge and so if you would like to donate too you can do so here 

It’s been a really insightful evening and left me with plenty of food for thought.

Thank you to The Trussell Trust for hosting and Lucy ‘half loaf’, Jake, Chris, Emma and Sarah for mucking right in.

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