Eleanor Wilde

Hungry For Justice


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The REAL food bank fast

Hi there!

Well, the last three days have been interesting. After 40 days of frugal living, with just £15 to feed ourselves every three days, we took a step down in the world from budget eating to food bank eating. After having our pick of the supermarket to spend our pennies in, we struggled to find enough nutritionally-balanced food to fill our basket this time. Since Monday, we have survived on an authentic food bank parcel, with nothing perishable, refridgerated or cooked in the oven. We used nothing from our cupboards and accepted no staff meals or ‘gifts’ from friends and family. Here is what we ate:

Monday

Breakfast: Special K almond & honey porridge sachet (27g) with soya milk, 1 frangipane tart

Lunch: Sainsbury’s tinned soup (1 can each) with cream crackers

Snacks: Ginger biscuits, tinned mandarin segments

Dinner: Pasta with tinned lentils, 1 jar red pepper & chilli pasta sauce

 

Tuesday

Breakfast: Same as Monday

Lunch: 1 tin sprats in tomato sauce on cream crackers

Snacks: Ginger biscuits, tinned peach slices

Dinner: White rice, 1 sachet Blue Dragon Sweet Chilli & Garlic stir fry sauce with tinned carrots and sweetcorn

 

Wednesday

Breakfast: Same again, this time with no frangipane tart, just ginger biscuits

Lunch: Pasta with 1 jar garlic & onion pasta sauce

Snacks: Same old ginger biscuits!

Dinner: ‘Cock flavour soup mix’ instant soup with noodles, a little rice and 1 tin butter beans in the soup, with cream crackers

 

We were hungry, almost all the time. Even more so when I was at work, running around a hot kitchen on an empty stomach. The worst meal for me was the sprats, with the sauce reminding me of baked beans, and it was just not filling enough. So this is what many people live with every day. I’m sure the Trussell Trust do a better job than we did; I was shocked by how little we got for our money. This experience was grim, and made us realise how much luxury we had been living in on just £2.50 per person per day. Please don’t underestimate the experience of living in poverty, surviving on handouts and feeling hungry every day. This is not just an experiment, this is real life. We wanted to make a difference, and to that end we are going to give the money we have saved this Lent to three charities which Keith Hebden from End Hunger Fast has recommended to us.

We don’t have much money anyway, with only one minimum wage and help from our families, but we have calculated that we’ve saved £150, which we will split three ways. It’s not too late, if you’ve been touched by our experience or that of Keith on his full 40 day fast, to donate to these very worthwhile causes yourself, and make a real difference to the lives of those in real food poverty. These are the causes we will be supporting:

 

Southwell & Notts diocese Lent Appeal- Ecoworks/ Edible Churchyards

Find out more here: http://southwell.anglican.org/life-faith/lent-2014/lent-appeal-2014/

The Trussell Trust food bank charity

http://www.trusselltrust.org/donate

Sherwood Food Bank-  Mansfield branch, St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Church

This is our local food bank, which Ruth volunteers at, and the money we give to them will be spent on extra supplies for people in need, to supplement their food bank parcel. This could be anything from treats for children to toilet paper, toothpaste and other essentials which people may struggle to afford.

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed my blog. It’s been an experience which I’ll never forget. Thank you to everyone who has followed, commented and supported the blog. A big thank you to our friends and family, who have kept us going, and most of all to Keith Hebden, whose dedication never ceases to amaze me.

God bless you all and Happy Easter,

Eleanor. 🙂

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Shop 5- The shop that never happened

Hi there,

It’s been a while! I’ve been working and studying very hard, so I haven’t had time for the blog, sorry! I hope you enjoyed my other half’s guest post; I think it’s important to talk about the wider issues around what we’re doing and Ruth reminded of those in the last post. The whole aim of this blog and this foodbank challenge is to help End Hunger Fast but I hope that our observations of extreme-budget eating might help those who do live on this kind of money every day. As Ruth said in the last post, we feel a bit (or a lot) shocked and guilty about how much of a storecupboard we are building up, and how little we have had to worry about food, despite drastically reducing our budget. So, as I was coming back from a late shift the other night, Ruth suggested on the phone that we give our next shop (or the £15 it would cost) to someone who works on a nearby housing estate, to give food to someone in need. There was someone specific in Ruth’s mind who had used up his food bank allocations and was pretty desperate.

That is why shop 5 ‘never happened’, and to be honest, we didn’t miss it. We got creative with leftovers and had everything from Thai curry to minestrone soup on just the food we had left. We haven’t yet done another shop. Ruth has succeeded in making soda bread, and we’ve discovered that vermicelli from the world food section (though cheap) is not a suitable replacement for normal noodles when put with a Thai curry! They do, however, go very well in minestrone. The minestrone that we had last night was the most delicious meal so far.

So…what next? I am currently sitting in a friend’s kitchen, because we are dog-sitting until Tuesday. I’ve got 3 bags of leftover food on the table next to me, believe it or not, but I am out of coffee! We’ll be trying out a Netto shop later, as that’s now our nearest shop, and there’s also something called a Nisa Local and a frightfully expensive Co-op Food as well. It’ll be an interesting scavenger hunt! Until then, however, we have been ordered to eat whatever food is going off while our friends are away, so another shop might not be needed yet.

This is what we have left, after almost a week (and in all honesty, a couple of meals with family and friends):

1/3 box frosted flakes cereal

About 20 teabags

2 garlic bulbs

1 carton chopped tomatoes

1/4 bag oats

1kg plain flour

1/2 bottle sunflower oil

500ml malt vinegar

About 600g salt

3/4 pot curry powder

About 100g baking soda400g allspice

About 300g penne pasta

10 small potatoes

7/8 onions

1/2 jar peanut butter

Almost full jar of honey

3/4 pot mixed herbs

6 1/2 veg stock cubes

1/4 bag rice

1 tub vegetable spread

1/2 carton sweetened soya milk

As you can see, basic things like oats, flour, onions and potatoes last a very long time. One thing I would like to do, and will do on one of our shops, is to try and go without fresh fruit and vegetables- in other words, we’ll try to eat in a similar way to a food bank parcel recipient! We’ve been eating very healthily due to all the fruit and veg, but with just storecupboard food, would we still be able to eat a balanced diet? We’ll see.

So…the next update will be on our next full £15 shop, when we eventually do it. For the moment, we will enjoy the rest of our provisions and see what else we can scavenge from this house-sitting gig.

See you later,

Eleanor 🙂