Banking on Food Banks

peas photo

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.

To get that referral you will already have had to apply for benefits (a labyrinthine procedure involving making appointments to make appointments), been arrested, have a small baby, waited months to see a social worker or have a fixed abode to receive GP care. That means that by the time you get there you’ve already been going hungry and you know that you only have 9 days worth of food maximum to solve the issue that brought you there.

But don’t people spend it all on fags and booze and Sky TV anyway? Only in tabloid land. The most common reason to attend a food bank is because of a delay or error in benefits payments. It takes on average 25 days to get a benefit claim in payment from when you apply and that’s without any issues such as lack of ID or providing P45s or sick notes. It’s a situation only likely to intensify if George Osborne brings in his plan to delay the claim for income based Job Seekers’ Allowance to 7 days. Right now if you are on a temp contract, you can leave work at 5pm and on your first day of unemployment, open a claim that day 9appointment gods willing). In future, you’ll wait a week no matter how worthy you are.

You can join the line in the meantime with the hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people found ‘fit for work’ after an Atos assessment who from October 2013 won’t get any money while the Department of Work and Pensions reconsider their claim. Instead they must turn themselves into Schrodinger’s Scrounger by simultaneously being fit to work 40 hours a week to claim JSA while appealing to be found to have limited capability for work to reinstate Employment Support Allowance. These people are too sick and disabled and traumatised by the system to offer you a seat, but maybe the people queuing because the Social Fund has been abolished will let you sit down?

These people used to be able to access interest free loans for food and emergencies called Crisis Loans, but multi millionaires Lord Freud and Iain Duncan Smith objected, so they were abolished. Budgeting Loans of a maximum of several hundred punds per family that helped poor people raise money for deposits, news shoes for their kids and unexpected events were also scrapped even though both types of loan were paid back by being taken off your benefits at source. For good measure the Community Care Grant which helped the newly rehoused to buy basics like a bed or crockery (as I myself did) or people pay for travel to events like a funeral also went. Funeral Payments for parents and spouses were slashed by around 45% as well. A nationally based good system was replaced by a piecemeal one where every single council got to decide its own system from a non ringfenced budget.

So now if your boiler blows up and you live in Birmingham, you get a voucher to Asda. If your child is sick and you need to travel to a specialist hospital, you get a voucher to a food bank instead of cash to pay the fares. The fact you are no longer deemed capable of applying for and then spending money allocated to you traps you into poverty. You might get three tins of beans but the bill still needs paid so you enter the world of payday loans (many of which come up first when you Google the social fund) which tend to snowball faster a crazed avalanche. And if you’ve been hit by the Bedroom Tax as a disabled person, carer or non resident parent in social housing, your arrears are going to keep growing. It’s actually amazing only half a million people used a food bank last year when you see the way things are.

The welfare state is, despite all the claims to the contrary, is a safety net. It’s a brilliant brave thing that gives more back to the nation that it takes. But it’s a precarious thing. You can’t stride across a safety net: you have to shuffle and strategise and take the help given to get to the other side. It can be slow going and it needs trust and courage. It doesn’t need a pit of crocodiles underneath and high winds. But that’s what the Welfare Reform Bill has brought. It’s going to push more people to food banks and it’s going to affect you even if you don’t think it will.

Contribution based Employment Support Allowance is now time limited to 365 days. So if you work all your life and get sick under the age of 65 and your partner earns more than £7,500 per year, you get nothing after a year despite all that National Insurance. 500,000 people will lose Disability Living Allowance when it is replaced by Personal Independence Payment from 2015. Their carers will lose their less than £60 per week payment in the process. Universal Credit will strip tax credits from anyone self employed who earns less than minimum wage while establishing their buisness. You can be mandated on to the Work Programme with compulsory placements or Workfare and sanctioned for up to three years if you object. People on zero hours contracts must work 35 hours per week to claim Universal Credit while spending the same amount of time again seeking new work.

All this has been brought in while we were debating why even poor people have flatscreen TVs these days and they’ve been made possible because food banks have been brought centre stage instead of being a very niche thing. Don’t get me wrong, I have no quibble with the people who run food banks or those who use them. My beef is with the government using those people to shoehorn in massive changes which have already made 900,000 people poorer in the last year.

They’ve dressed food banks up as the Big Society, hiding that they wish to return to the idea of the deserving and undeserving poor. The idea of paying benefits on card was mooted by MP Alec Shelbrooke, ignoring (possibly wilfully) that supermarket payment cards would damage small high street businesses. It would also further entrench food poverty by preventing people from shopping around and having choice just to stop anyone buying cigarettes or alcohol. Food banks are being used to hide behind while showing them off in a sleight of hand as an answer.

No voter in the country is gaining from this. It’s divide and rule, perpetuating the scrounger rhetoric and suggesting that benefit claimants don’t pay tax. In fact everyone pays VAT in the UK and some benefits are taxable. Many claimants are in work but the benefits bill continues to rise because many employers don’t pay proper wages necessitating Tax Credit top ups. These low wages and lack of social housing mean the Housing Benefit bill is rising but 9 of 10 new claimants in some areas are working. the government is relying on a lot of cans of spaghetti hoops to fix some fundamental issues.

I will continue to give to food banks. I have been poor enough to need one, but instead I skipped meals so I only ate every couple of days because I felt too ashamed. I have also been in a position where I have handed out the vouchers for food banks. Seeing the palpable shame and fear of the people I handed the ticket to both humbled and hardened me. Not against those ordinary people but against the truly extraordinary ones who are bringing in the rules that send them there.

I see no contradiction in helping those in need and asking our politicians and society why they are in need. Not once in two years did I meet someone using a food bank who had blown their cash on drugs or booze or frivolities. Instead my boss always kept an a packet of biscuits in his bag to offer to them. Once they’d eaten one or two in the course of conversation made it easier to offer the voucher because not once did anyone ask to be referred there. The remainder of the biscuits went with them and often provided the energy to walk the five miles there.

I don’t believe anyone wants to be in this situation so I will be reserving my empathy for those who are and my ire for those who blame them. If everyone offered a donation and asked questions of the way the situation is developing, it would help more than simple charity. You can find your local food bank here or contribute to Save the Children’s UK appeal. You may think this isn’t for people like you, but that’s exactly what the government is relying on. By all means ask questions about welfare reform and poverty, but ask them of the press and politicians, not the claimants…




23 replies
  1. Caitriona
    Caitriona says:

    I’m can’t believe that the foodbanks can only provide food for needy recipients 9 days out of 365. Goodness. Do families not suffer hardship for the other days?
    We don’t have state foodbanks in ROI. We do have the St Vincent de Paul who distribute food (and various other) aid via shopping vouchers, The Lion’s Club who distribute food hampers at Christmas and then there are organisations like Cork Penny Dinners, Crosscare and the Capuchin Day Mission in Dublin who give out food parcels once a week, provide meals and don’t ask any questions. You could present yourself at the door 52 weeks of the year and still be handed food.
    You’re right, we need to look at why the demand for these services are increasing and I completely agree – empathy for those who are in need and ire for those who blame them. Great post.

  2. sheila
    sheila says:

    so what’s to be done?one of the papers this morning is saying, the sun’s shining, the sports (rugby, tennis, bikes) are winning and all’s right with the world! how to wake people up and help them to understand we are all in this together and that , with rare exceptions, hard times and bad things can happen to us all.?

  3. Miss South
    Miss South says:

    Sheila: good question! I’d say it’s important to challenge the narrative that helps allow this so if you know the Express or the Mail is fibbing about benefits (see things like disabled people get ‘free cars’) tell people where you can. It’s also worth holding my elected officials to account so ask your local councillors about their Social Fund plans, write to your MP and sign the WOW Petition for a cumulative assessment of benefit cuts. But most of all, support those struggling whether it’s not blaming them or offering help. All small steps that might not change the world, but they might make someone’s life feel less difficult!

    Caitriona: I believe you can sometimes qualify for an extra food parcel at Christmas through the Salvation Army. Totally worth claiming benefits for huh? Our horrible government probably believes that sites like this who provide birthday cakes for low income families encourage welfare dependency rather than do a nice thing for humanity.

  4. Kate Powell
    Kate Powell says:

    Miss South, Thank you so much for taking the time to write that article and for the link to Free Cakes for Kids, I will be getting in touch with them so that they can extend their network over to West Wales!

  5. Chrissie
    Chrissie says:

    Dear Miss South, Thank you very much for this post. You set out so clearly and comprehensively the horrendous, hazardous and desperate situation for so many people who rely on benefits – Social Security – to feed themselves and their children and keep a roof over their heads. I will share your post on my Facebook page because I believe it should have a wider audience.
    I volunteer at a Foodbank. When the benefit cuts came in I felt so angry and powerless I wanted to do something practical instead of seething and shouting at the telly. I’m not a church-goer, or even a Christian but I wanted to stand shoulder to shoulder with people being hammered by these evil policies. I’ve gone home and wept after some sessions – the claimants’ situations are unimaginable.

    You’re right that Foodbanks are no answer to the escalating levels of poverty we are seeing right now. And I agree that people should keep asking ‘Why?’ in their every-day conversations and challenging the demonisation of low-waged, unemployed and disabled people. Yes, and questions to councillors and MPs lets them know that their constituents don’t accept this austerity drive as justifiable or rational. Thanks for the links in your post. Let’s arm ourselves with facts and figures that challenge the lies and distortions peddled by the politicians and right wing media. Let’s get out and join campaigns that offer solidarity and support to people being oppressed by this vicious government.

  6. Sandie
    Sandie says:

    Well said Miss South – your anger is justified. This government is now showing its true colours. I still can’t get my head round the meanness of the bedroom tax, it’s positively Victorian – and food banks in 21st century Britain is simply unbelievable. One aspect really angers me is the way supermarkets are cashing in on it. You mention Tesco’s but my local Waitrose recently had a drive to encourage customers to buy their plain labelled basics for the food bank boxes by the exits, the checkouts were piled high with them, they’d even gone to the trouble of printing glossy leaflets explaining what they were doing. I prefer to go direct to the food bank rather than swell Waitrose’s, or Tesco’s, coffers. And they have the cheek to expect to get the kudos for doing it, and conning us into believing it’s not simply more marketing.

  7. kevin cockerell
    kevin cockerell says:

    Excellent argument against the way Foodbanks are used by the government to distract us from the real problem of poverty in this country.

  8. Miss South
    Miss South says:

    Sandie: that’s a really good (and troubling) point I hadn’t thought of. Supermarkets making money from food drives is pretty unpleasant. Plus, I don’t see why people using a food bank can’t have own brand or branded goods while I’m at it (or it’s the whole undeserving poor thing to me). I’m also conflicted since a lot of what supermarkets ask you to donate is the kind of food that doesn’t fill you up when hungry and in the case of fruit juice, probably crashes your blood sugar and makes it worse. But in asking food banks to solve that i’m asking too much of them too…

  9. Will Morris
    Will Morris says:

    Hi all, I run an independent food bank in Stafford that is open to all. Referral is by local agencies both third sector and statutory. No tickets required just evidence of need. We do not judge you. This is part of the House of Bread vulnerable and homeless folk charity. Along with our food bank is the clothes bank that now includes toiletries. When we started in Oct 2010 we had 10 people. Now we give meals to over 80 !!!!. We do work with several supermarkets but not Tesco’s ! of all the ones we work with they have been the most difficult and will not work with independent food banks, only the Trussel Trust and I am sure you area aware of the issue hear. The long and the sort of it is that sociaty now a days is more concerned about ” Me time ” and because I am worth it that ” Who is my neighbore. Will

  10. Miss South
    Miss South says:

    Hi Will, thank you so much for your comment. One thing I’ve noticed since researching and writing this post is that there seem to be more independent food banks in the North than London and the South East which is really interesting and heartening. I’ve certainly heard the Trussell Trust rumours and while I have no idea if it’s accurate, I do wonder what a big organisation like that who only provide parcels (unlike Fareshare) stand to gain?

    I wish you success with your food bank (and that all 80 of your clients don’t need you anymore!). If you get a chance, please leave a link as to how people in the area can donate or help out!

  11. Anna
    Anna says:

    Thanks for writing this piece. It’s definitely inspired me and my partner to ensure we donate to them. We’ve been disappointed to find, however, that there are none in the Manchester city centre area or surrounding suburbs (other than Salford – which is definitely not Manchester locals will have you know!!). I hear they’re starting one in Trafford, but for such a large city and with many deprived urban areas, I’m really surprised that there’s not a more central one.

    Anna x

  12. Miss South
    Miss South says:

    Anna: I’m surprised too. I know no one actually wants there to be more food banks, but at the same time it’s odd there aren’t more. This looks interesting though as a food co op. Taps into more than just giving people UHT milk so don’t know if that might worth looking into? We have a great non denominational based project here in South London which sounds very welcoming.

  13. Anna
    Anna says:

    Sorry – wouldn’t let me “reply” to other comment. Yes, what Manc Veg People are doing is great but it’s for the industry rather than consumers, or that was what they said when I spoke to them earlier in the year. Not sure if things have changed.
    I’ll investigate further anyway! Have found a church-led one round the corner from our house actually so will drop off there in the mean time.

    Anna x

  14. Miss South
    Miss South says:

    Anna, I wasn’t quite sure from that article if MVP was quite the thing, but it’s a good idea all the same. I hope you find something or if anyone else knows of somewhere, they could let you know here. The other thing I didn’t mention are breakfast clubs for kids which also fill a gap in provision. They are also looking for donations and help. Magic Breakfast do a lot in London, but as an annoying Southerner, I’m not sure about elsewhere…

  15. Sharmila
    Sharmila says:

    Great post, and thank you for showing how all of the government’s policies together are so destructive. I’m sure it’s not a coincidence that these are all posited as separate initiatives as a means of distracting from the fact that their cumulative effect is so horrendous.

  16. Stuart gardner
    Stuart gardner says:

    Dear Miss South,

    Agree with what you have said here……. am not a lover of Tesco but fair enough… it is good of them to do something. Been on esa for 2 months…. anxiety and panic attacks ,,,, hey hum usual stuff for me….. managed to fine a lovely housing association flat in a nice area….. but two bedrooms….. so am 14 pounds worse off a week….don’t care because the flat is in a lovely area….. having to get used to people saying good morning to me when walking the doggie!!!! Did not have a bed or a chair to sit on when I moved in….. within 3 days i have kitted out my flat…. went to the community furniture service in Newcastle…..a charity open to all without a referral….. spoke to a lovely guy called Alan….. thought it strange that very few things were priced…. he said well will show you and tell you the price….. said I have just got my ESA for 2 weeks…… a bed, two sofas and large book case for 70 pounds…..presume why nothing is priced is for them to work out that you need it and your not a landlord furnishing a flat!!!!
    The area I now live in is a student area…… so walked around the back lanes….. the following finds:

    2 x double duvets
    I flat screen tv which works…… dont used the tv as cannot afford licence so that has gone to a friend who has always wanted a flat tv. Thank god for radio 4 and digital radio
    1 x microwave….. spotless….. so having to work out microwave cooking
    I x kettle so my kettle given to a friend who did not have one
    1 x toaster
    1 black bin bag of tinned food….. just washed tines in hot water
    1 x small fridge with frezzer box…..
    1 x ikea house plant
    1 x bookcase….. saw a student being moved home by man and dad back to yorkshire…… asked are you getting rid of a bookcase….yes we are taking one to a charity shop so here you are…. oh doi you need pots and pans.
    I bottle filled with copper and 5 pences….. went to Morrisons and put it through one of those mac hine ….got £3,48 voucher….. put 50 p to it …… afraid that went on a cheap bottle of soave.
    5 euro’s in change……. will take this to M and S……
    2 pairs of ikea curtains
    5 garden chairs and table
    20 plant pots……. had to spend 10 pound on herb seeds and compost……
    i m and s flower vase
    4 x bed sheets…… took to frined who washed then for me

    I could go on…. you tell me which goverment minster has furnished a flat for 70 pounds and by walking the back lanes…..

    Because my GP put me on ESA a few months ago…… I did not ask but it was on his instructions….. there has been a break from my jsa claim with the esa claim…. therefore do not qualify for the 26 weeks rule for a budgeting loan!!!!!!

    Become a bit veggie ass much cheaper to eat without meat……. not saying I will never have roast beef and yorkies again…..

    Had a bit left from my esa this week so when to the second hand oxfam book shop…. saw some books I liked and thought just get them….. joked with the assistant that did not think the government expect people to read philosophy books when you are on the sick………. bill came to less than expected!!!!

    Got my eyes tested taking advantage of a free eye test…… optician whispered in my ears when showing me the frames….. these you can get free!!!!!

    There are some kind people in the world!!!!!!! You have to be creative to survive….

  17. Miss South
    Miss South says:

    Stuart, it ate my original reply…

    Thank you for this comment. It deserves its own blog post. It’s brilliant, yet upsetting and frustrating (26 week rule fury!) and inspiring.

    It’s reminded me so much of those early days on benefits when everything, even the good stuff seems like a trap and all questions might trip you up. I felt guilty about complaining about being treated badly, but knew I wasn’t doing anything wrong by being ill. I also felt guilty about being helped despite my own contributions of NI and tax and yet I felt so grateful it was almost pathetic.

    And in amongst that I saw more kindness, caring, sharing and support than I ever imagined possible. People who know it’s not scrounging and understand the realities of life not going according to plan. That’s social security for you!

    Good luck with everything. I hope you get invited for Sunday lunch soon too! x

  18. azure
    azure says:

    I can only agree with your statement regarding how food banks/pantries/Food shares have not only become more prevalent, but are used as a substitute for a better or fairer distribution of income and resources.

    I’m in the US, and I’ve watched as more people need to visit food banks/shares in my town, and more and more fundraising events are held as need seems to only increase. So much for the US economic “recovery.”

    Simultaneously at the state (and probably local) and national levels there’s increased propaganda re: “people could have jobs if they wanted to work . . . “, “all people receiving disability benefits are malingerers, druggies (even though Congress amended the Social Security Act in 1996 to bar people who are disabled solely by substance abuse/addition from receiving disability benefits), or suffer from a sense of “entitlement.”

    So much blame, criticism and punitive action is directed at those who are poor & disabled, so little at the highflyers who drove the US to the brink of economic collapse–and who continue to receive bloated compensation, bonuses, or have retired with billions. Very little has changed in the US as far as privatizing profits and socializing the risks is concerned since 2008, when the housing bubble burst and it became apparent even to the oblivious of how recklessly, carelessly and phenomenally greedily the CEOs & upper management of what came to be called the “too big too fail” banks, various mortgage brokers had acted.

    In the US, there’s a program, w/the acronym of WIC, to assist low income pregnant women meet their nutritional needs. It’s a valid purpose: a well nourished woman who (also) receives good pre-natal care, is more likely to give birth to a healthy baby, right? Who in turn is less likely to cost the state money for health care, and who gets a good start at growing into a healthy student and worker. But, as so often happens in the US & perhaps elsewhere, it’s become yet another way of making sure the multinational food corps get the bulk of the money–regardless of the nutritional consequences.

    How is it done? By restricting what brands of the “healthy” foods that can be purchased using the WIC card.

    In the 1990’s, when the program began, I worked part-time at a small natural foods co-operative in a small town. We had to stock specific types of brand name cereals (General Mills products, etc.) we would never have otherwise carried because participants in the WIC program could not buy other brands, even if they were less expensive because they were sold in bulk. I remember the manager spending time reading nutrition labels, trying to decide which of the available megacorporate food options was the least unhealthy (and so more in line with the co-op’s goals).

    If women wanted to eat oatmeal made from rolled oats, organically grown or not, they bought in bulk at the co-op, they had to pay for it themselves. But Cheerios were fine (as long as they were made by General Mills, store brand wasn’t acceptable) Cheerios in a box were paid for by the WIC program. More expensive? Yes. Quite possibly not as nutritious (or tasting as good), yes. But it put some money in General Mills’ “pockets.”

    Today: a few weeks ago, the bulk foods manager of the much larger food co-op (different town) I belong to now, said that the co-op is discontinuing bulk stocking of 3 or 4 non-organic varieties of dried beans and lentils. Why? Because the WIC program no longer pays for even non-organic dried beans/lentils in bulk. They have to be brand name, in a packet or can (and not dried). My guess is that only certain multinational corporate brands are acceptable.
    Will the brand name stuff be more expensive? Mostly likely.
    Apparently, organically grown dried lentils or beans were never a possible choice in the WIC program.

    The US food stamp program is as much of an agricultural subsidy and price support as a means of assisting people in meeting their food needs.

    The Food Stamp program is now known as SNAP and too many members of Congress, unsettled by the growth in those qualified for SNAP benefits in the past 4 years, seem to believe the solution is to drastically decrease funding.

    Because while the US can “afford” to waste hundreds of billions on the F-35 (yet another military jet), despite the project’s many cost overruns, failures to meet contract deadlines, flight & part test failures (repeated), it “can’t afford” to make sure that everyone in the US is able to obtain a sufficient amount of food. Really–that’s what those members of Congress will tell you, and with a straight face.

    Being “safe” (from terrrrrsists) doesn’t include having enough to eat.

    Last year, I took some of the blueberries I’d picked (local blueberry farm has U-pick days) to the local food pantry. A friend who has around 20 apple trees had a great harvest and in addition to giving me 20-30 lbs of apples, I took in 2 lots of probably 25 lbs each of her apples to the same local food pantry and, in a smaller town, to a video store that doubles as an informal community center. The local food pantry also has a small community garden complete with cloche (a large covered raised bed) and offers free classes on food budgeting and health cooking (cooking from scratch–I will have to send a link to your blog to the director!). There are several community gardens in town, including one at a school, and most donate some of their produce to the food bank. Never seems to be enough to meet the need.

    As far as I know, there is no limit on how many times a person or family can utilize the food pantry–unless perhaps it’s to once every 3 days, I believe that’s how long the food people receive is meant to last. In this county, the food pantry, also assists in providing free meals during the summer to people under 18 ( various locations in the county) and may also help administer the “backpack” program. The backpack program runs during the school year, it provides a backpack of food for the weekend to any school child who needs it–because otherwise he/she would not have enough to eat over the weekend. I don’t know how need is determined, whether it’s restricted to children who have already qualified for free or reduced cost school meals or not.

    While I’m glad to have enough to share with others and that I can transport my friend’s surplus (she lives in a very rural area) I hate the reason it’s needed–increasing income inequality in what used to be described as the wealthiest nation in the world.

  19. Miss South
    Miss South says:

    Azure: thank you so much for this comment. I knew there were differences between the way food banks are run in the UK and the US, but I’ve found it very difficult to find non biased sources online (and we have so much ‘welfare reform’ here that I should be reading on that, not just US stuff!)

    Our ‘reforms’ here seem to be mirroring the stuff that Clinton brought in during the early 90s (while addicts can still receive disability benefits here it’s been suggested to exclude them too even though surely it must have increased the prison and crime numbers hugely?)

    I wonder if there is now less stigma about food support in the US because of SNAP and the fact food pantries have come to stay? Here it’s still very isolating and difficult for people and because they don’t deal with fresh food, everything you get is tinned and/or loaded with sugar. You’re encouraged to buy value ranges for the collections at supermarkets (I buy them myself but only on some products) nd there’s a censorious tone that poor people aren’t allowed nice things. (Our propaganda is about big flatscreen TVs and ‘free’ cars for those on social security.)

    I think I’d have slightly less qualms about food banks if they were less about just handing out food and more about helping people with food by teaching them to cook and shop at the same time, but in order to do that, they have to be more permanent which isn’t ideal. It’s such a fraught situation!

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