My name is Ruth and I am Ellie’s fiancée. I am guest posting this time as Ellie is incredibly busy (she is currently planting peas in the community garden with the children from church and then she’s off to work!)
I will begin by saying that I admire Keith Hebden greatly for the 40 day fast he is doing. He is completely abstaining from food for Lent in solidarity with people who skip meals because they can’t feed themselves and their families. He is raising awareness of the hunger situation in Britain and the End Hunger Fast campaign on television, online and on the radio. I hope he and all those supporting the campaign achieve their three goals: a welfare system that works as a robust last line of defence against destitution and hunger, work that pays enough for people to provide for their families, and a food market that doesn’t revolve around money and profiteering off hunger but that promotes sustainable and healthy diets for all. For more information go here: endhungerfast.co.uk
It doesn’t have to be like this. It has been said before, but I will say it again: this earth has enough food to provide everyone on it with enough food and a healthy, balanced diet. Every time I say grace, I don’t thank God for my food- I find that hard to say when there are so many people who go hungry- we shouldn’t believe God blesses some people and not others when the real problem is injustice. Instead, I thank God for the abundance of creation and for providing for us, and then I pray for those who go hungry and for the world to be a place where justice reigns and all people have life and food in abundance.
As Ellie has already explained, we are doing what is called the ‘3 day food bank fast’ in solidarity with those who are so hungry and poor that they have to use food banks. Don’t believe what some politicians have said about people using food banks to get a ‘free meal’. I have met many people who have used food banks in my job as Pastoral Assistant for the churches in Mansfield and they do so because they are desperate- often they are not able to buy food because they are struggling to control their debts and outgoing payments. People I’ve met who have used the food banks are often not only poor and hungry, but also feeling worthless because they are relying on others to feed them, stressed and worried about their money situation which is out of their control, and bordering on depression because they can’t see a way out. These are the people we want the government to help. Politicians of all colours and parties need to check their own privilege and remember that there are many people- often people we have met and spoken to unawares- who are living hand-to-mouth because of low-paid and insecure work or changes in benefits. Just this morning at church a lady told me that this is the first time in years that she has not lived day-to-day and skipped meals in order to feed her children. She had a full-time job but she was on a low wage and when she was ill or her children were ill, they just didn’t pay her because they did not have to by law. This kind of thing is a DISGRACE and it needs to stop. This is a ‘developed’ country and I am ashamed that we allow so many people to live on the poverty line.
Ellie and I both feel like we are cheating with this fast, because not only do we get to build up a store cupboard so each shop is easier than the last, but we also keep getting given ‘gifts’ by friends and family- invited for a meal here, given some cake there. It does all feel a bit too easy. That’s not to say that we aren’t learning something- we are. We are learning that most things in the ‘Basics’ range are just as good as the other products (although I realised this week that the ‘basics’ baked beans really aren’t as good as other beans!!) We are also learning that throwing anything at all away is just wasteful- everything, absolutely everything, can be re-used in a new meal. We were never very wasteful with food and always tried to use up leftovers, but this is on a whole new level- we are eating not only the cauliflower but the cauliflower leaves, we are using leftover sauce from one dish and making it into a new sauce for another dish. The other day I threw away a few small bits of soda bread which were stale and Ellie was very cross with me! I don’t think we’ll ever look at food the same way again!
The fourth shop we did was the most accurate shop so far! We spent £14.99 out of a possible £15. Here is our receipt to prove it:
This time around we were able to buy Quorn pieces, which will be very versatile and a good replacement for chicken. The truth is we are semi-vegetarian anyway- even before starting this fast- and we love Quorn! We also have a problem with buying meat if the animal has been treated badly, so the only chicken we buy is always free-range or organic. On this fast there is no way we can afford it, so it was lovely to have some chicken at our friends’ house last night! To be fair, they gave us a meal, but it wasn’t because they knew we were doing the food bank fast. It was to thank us for some dog sitting we will be doing this week for them!
The most expensive items were a sauce for making Thai green curry- it would have been much more expensive to buy the paste and the coconut milk- and some cheddar cheese. We have realised how expensive cheese is since we started this fast!
Thank you for bearing with me on this fairly long post- I will hand you back to Ellie for the next one!
Here’s to the campaign to end hunger fast!