Tuesday 17 December 2013

The Trussell Trust and foodbanks

I try hard to use up leftovers and come up with frugal recipes, but I am in a very lucky position that I always have more than enough to eat. Sadly, food poverty is a problem even in this country, and this month's Credit Crunch Munch has asked us to draw attention to the issue.

The Trussell Trust works with local communities to combat poverty that believes everyone has a right to have food on their plate, dignity, skills, a chance to work and hope for the future. Their motto is "restoring dignity and revising hope". The charity is based in my hometown of Salisbury and its UK foodbanks have been going since 2004 though it is only over the past few years that I have become aware of their work. It was set up by Carol and Paddy Henderson and named after Carol's mother Betty Trussell, initially helping homeless children in Bulgaria. But then when they were contacted by a local Salisbury mother asking for help to feed their children, they started looking into the issue of food poverty in the UK and started a foodbank from their garden shed with the idea of providing three days' worth of emergency food to people in crisis.

I think this is really important to point out- the Trussell Trust doesn't just work with homeless people but also those who might need a hand just for a couple of days. For instance, people who are made redundant with little notice, or who are on a low income and receive a large bill. Or those like a friend of mine who benefited from the generosity of the Trussell Trust when her benefit payments were late.

Vicky blogs at Single Mother Ahoy and I have her permission to share a couple of her blog posts with you. In this post she explains why she initially thought the food banks were not for people like her, as she didn't really need it, but then was persuaded by her Home Start coordinator that she could benefit from some basic staples while she was waiting for her benefit payment, which had been delayed. She received nappies and chocolate as well as basic food items. I think Vicky makes the point really well that many of us could be in a situation where we need a little help every now and then, and that if we are lucky enough to not be one of those people, maybe we should consider donating to the foodbanks. Here's another blog post Vicky wrote on the Trussell Trust; I encourage you to check out her blog about the trials and tribulations of being a single mother, which is upbeat and interesting and also tackles some important issues.

Here are some facts about the Trussell Trust, taken from their website:
- 13 million people live below the poverty line in the UK
-In 2012-2013 foodbanks fed 346,992 nationwide.  
- Foodbanks also help prevent crime, housing loss, family breakdown and mental health problems 
- All food is donated by the public and sorted by volunteers. Frontline care professionals like doctors and social workers identify people in crisis and issue a voucher for a food box.
- Each food box contains a minimum of three days of nutritionally-balanced, non-perishable food.
Here's how you can help:

Donate via this website or by phone or cheque either as a one-off or on a regular basis. The Archbishop of Canterbury is leading a campaign to encourage people to donate 10% of what they are spending this Christmas to the Trussell Trust.

If you are in Salisbury or the surrounding areas, you can also donate clothing to the Trussell Trust's charity shops. I will be in Salisbury over Christmas and will definitely stop by one of the shops.

You can also donate non-perishable food directly to your local foodbank; you can see a map here.

Fundraise for the Trussell Trust; you can see plenty of ideas here.

Volunteer- there are all sorts of ways you can participate. You can help out at a supermarket to collect food or work at the foodbank sorting the donations, or sell items on Ebay and Amazon to benefit the Trussell Trust. If you are aged 17-21 you can even volunteer overseas at a summer camp run by the Trussell Trust in Bulgaria!

Shoebox appeal - as mentioned above, the Trussell Trust also does a lot of work in Bulgaria and asks people to fill a shoebox with small gifts and drop it off to them in Salisbury, for them to distribute to children in Bulgaria. If you're not near Salisbury, you can donate money and they will put together a shoebox for you. The deadline for this year's appeal has now passed but it's definitely something I will keep an eye out for next year.

Reduce food waste
This isn't specifically something you can do to help the Trussell Trust but I can't really talk about food poverty while being wasteful myself. We all have a tendency to over indulge at this time of year so here are a few suggestions and things to think about.

- Do you really need all those tins of Celebrations and Quality Street and bowls of nuts and crisps on your table this Christmas, when some people struggle to afford the basics? How about for every £5 tin of Miniature Heroes or the like that you buy, donate the equivalent amount of money to the Trussell Trust?

- Do your best to minimise waste when you are cooking. Only buy what you need, but also think about what is most cost effective. For instance, buying a pack of chicken portions and freezing the rest, or buying something on 'buy one, get one free' and if it will go off before you can use it, team up with a friend or relative to split the items between you.

- Cooking a large meal in one go, such as a casserole or big pot of chilli, and then freezing the other portions saves both time and money and is much healthier to take out the freezer when it's late than microwaving a ready meal.

-Don't be afraid to use up leftovers. Some people are food snobs, to put it bluntly, and would rather bin any leftovers than put them into tupperware or the freezer. I have several recipes on my blog where I have used up leftovers (though they are not all labelled as such); I also work in an office that has microwaves for staff use so I frequently take leftovers from dinner into work for my lunch the next day. Check out Credit Crunch Munch, hosted by Helen at Fuss Free Flavours, for loads of fantastic ideas for thrifty meals that won't break the bank and often use leftovers; I also recommend this blog hop from Jen at Blue Kitchen Bakes to get ideas on using up leftovers from a roast dinner.

Thanks to Helen at Fuss Free Flavours for suggesting we turn our attention to the Trussell Trust for this month's Credit Crunch Munch challenge. I'm going to make a donation online to the Trussell Trust and visit one of their charity shops when I am in Salisbury over Christmas. I will also do my best to not waste any food over Christmas and remind other people that even if they are catering for a crowd, there's no need to buy twice as much food as they need and throw half of it away. What are you going to do?

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