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Banking on Food Banks

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This weekend the sun is shining, we’ve got a chance of a British tennis champion and even more surprisingly, Tesco are doing their bit for the nation. They are hosting a food drive to raise donations for the Trussell Trust and Fareshare who are Britain’s largest foodbank and food aid provider. How heartwarming. One can pop a tin of tuna and some sweetcorn in the trolley and go back to planning your barbecue. Food banks are just part of life aren’t they?

No. Food banks are not part of life and their movement from the very very fringes of society to a full fledged part of the welfare state in less than three years is a scandal that should shock you and the country to its very core. This isn’t coincidence and it isn’t because people are such bargain hunters they’ll queue for days for a can of Spam instead of Shake Shack as Lord Freud would have you think.

Food banks are a way for the politicians to push people further into poverty and then blame them for being poor. They are the very embodiment of bread and circuses. Hearing Michael Gove say that children go to school hungry because their parents are feckless is deliberately designed to muddy the waters so that people don’t notice the ripples the coalition is creating as it attempts of dismantle the welfare state and start charging for the NHS. It’s Daily Mail fodder and many people lap it up and ask for seconds while their neighbours go to a food bank because the system is failing them.

Food banks are mainly run by churches and community groups, offering a food parcel of three days worth of food, mainly tinned or packaged as it may have been stored for quite a while by them before being offered out. Each family or individual can access a food bank three times in one year. This rule is enforced by the fact you cannot self refer to a food bank. You must be referred and given a ticket by someone like a police officer, Job Centre Plus staff, health visitor, GP or social worker. Much more exclusive than the swankiest restaurant Lord Freud eats at.

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