Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Food Bank Bucks

If, like me, you are still rubbing your tummy like a happy Samiad after a glut of indulgence over Christmas then perhaps it’s timely to think about food banks in Bucks.

This was my 39th Christmas and despite the joy of being able to share it with my little family, something ugly crept in and gnawed at its glittery edges.

Maybe it’s the downturn, maybe it’s growing older but this year I was acutely aware of the grubby consumer Grinch pawing at my purse.     

Supermarkets, stuffing their aisles with goodies to eat from September, adverts touting sales before Christmas day, Easter eggs on sale from 1st January, all before the pounding of weight watchers and gym membership started.

It’s like we’re on a giant fun fair ride whose only aim is to shake as much change out of you as possible.   

The ‘Pig Goes Pop’ game my 4-year-old received for her birthday has become a cheap plastic reminder of what we have become.  

Born, consume, pop.

Each day the need in Britain grows for food banks.

Unemployment, escalating energy bills and rising food costs are pushing more people than ever before to the financial brink and into food poverty. 

Hunger is horrible.  Or, at least, so I am told.  

I am fortunate enough to only know hunger through choice. True hunger ebbs and flows.  First you feel shaky and weak, then pain which fades until all you feel is hollow and tired.                 

Speaking to Kate Vale, Food Bank Coordinator of One Can Trust - a Bucks-based charity that provides free emergency food parcels - there are around 12,000 children in Bucks living in income poverty.

This translates to approximately one in five children in High Wycombe going to bed hungry.

Sadly, the demand for short-term emergency food parcels in the area is growing. Latest figures from One Can Trust show that number of food parcels issued in 2011 was 225; in 2013 this figure rose to 3,347.

In order to use a food bank you must be referred by a registered agency, such as a healthcare practice, social services or a homeless centre.

Donations, from schools, supermarkets, companies and individuals are delivered to the Big Yellow Self-Storage centre on the London Road. The food is then checked (it must be within use by date), sorted and packed by volunteers for delivery to those in need in the area.

There are around 100 volunteers who generously give up their time to help One Can Trust pack and distribute the food parcels; however, there is always need for more.

I know there are wider term issues to consider here.

I appreciate that food banks are a quick fix, a sticking plaster for something fundamentally wrong with the system - whether that’s cutting people’s benefits, rising unemployment or something else – but we and the Government can’t ignore the rise in food banks.      

I hope to give up my time soon. If you can give up one or two hours a week or offer food donations contact One Can Trust here http://onecantrust.org.uk/contact-us/ or call 07731 789313.


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