Food bank: A perspective

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Baked Beans. Ash Madden 2021.

When friends and acquaintances learn that I volunteer at Rye Food Bank, they applaud the contribution of the volunteers for helping those in need. And quite often ask how they can donate.

A few people, on the other hand, ask how we know our customers are deserving of our support. Usually, I’m taken aback by this question. Why would anyone go to a food bank unless they had to? It’s not as if we’re dishing out smoked salmon and foie gras to anyone who asks.

Standard food bank parcels include the absolute basics to keep a family fed in an emergency situation. These are emergency rations designed to provide a few days’ worth of provisions and include basics such as baked beans, dried pasta and long-life milk.

When people tell us they have nothing to eat, we tend to believe them – in the same way that other emergency services respond first and ask questions later. Imagine if a lifeboat crew demanded independent verification that a family was drowning before going to their aid!

No one should go hungry

Personally, I believe that no one should go hungry. No matter what they’ve done or not done. No child should ever go to bed hungry. Especially not in a wealthy society such as ours. Food Banks should not need to exist.

Perhaps there are people who abuse the system (although I am not aware of any). But the same is true of any system. The concern of a minority is that some people might receive food when they’re not genuinely in need. Personally, I’m much more concerned about the reverse – people who do not visit the food bank when they are in need.

It takes courage to admit that you need help. And if you’ve not been before, there is a natural concern about what’s involved and the hoops that need to be jumped through. But the food bank is not like Universal Credit. You don’t need to fill out any 20-page forms; you don’t need to go online; you don’t need to wait five weeks.

We’re here to help

If you or your family are hungry, please come and talk to us. We’re here to help. As are the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Hastings Advice and Representation Centre. Contacts details can be found at the foot of this article.

To put the food bank into perspective, I read this morning about the government devoting £37bn of taxpayer money to a test and trace programme that has no identifiable benefit yet (according to the government’s own Public Accounts Committee). That’s enough for four tins of baked beans for every household in the country. Every week for twenty years.

Rye Food Bank: 07526 349847 or ryefoodbank@gmail.com.
Rother CAB: 01424 215055 or help@rotherdistrictcab.org.uk
HARC: 0333 344 0681 or info@harcuk.com.
Jempson’s Foundation Food Bank appeal: https://www.jempson-foundation.org/rye-food-bank/

Image Credits: Ash Madden .

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