Wednesday 13 January 2021

Not Expecting Foie Gras

The exposure of the food parcel scam across social media and the rapid about-turn by the government reminds us, despite having a seemingly unassailable majority, how the Tories can be pushed into reverse. That said, lost among yesterday's furore were the voices of people who've got by using these packages or have survived thanks to a local food bank. In this guest post, comrade G offers her two penneth informed by her experiences.

I was dismayed waking up this morning to see there were plans just to make the food parcels larger. The government's u-turn will help, but this wasn’t the point. The big issue is many struggling families have been made to feel like second class citizens begging for food, because they can’t be trusted to spend a £30 voucher wisely for their children. Looking at social media, I’m glad I was not the only one feeling such anger at this.

The feeling you get when you go to a food bank or have to pick up food parcels from school is horrible. I've long gone beyond caring what others think, but it’s still uncomfortable knowing people either pity you or look down on you. And who knows how a lot of the other parents feel when their self-esteem may be even lower.

Then there's having to interrupt the school and work routines to collect the food parcels (because many supported by these schemes are in work – shock!) but still having to fit in another food shop as this does not obviously cover food for the whole family for a week. I managed over the first lock down to organise our meal planning to only have to go to the supermarket once every 2 weeks (skimmed UHT is actually okay at a push – we were not expecting foie gras). The fewer the trips to the supermarket, the lower the chance of catching Covid. It's cheaper doing it this way too for a variety of reasons, not just fuel costs. The half hour getting to and from secondary school could have been spent earning that fiver to then be able to choose your own food. And no one thinks about the dispensing end of these food package schemes. The teachers have this weird extra job on top of everything else expected of them. Even with masks they're the ones handling the bags. It's all adding to the risk of exposure to covid.

Then there's the food itself. Yes, there are some nice things and I am always grateful. But, likewise, with the food bank, because it is stuff you have not planned, you then have to be inventive and plan around a flipping bag full of stuff. I cook things in bulk which saves time and money, and that allows for more expensive things like nuts, seeds, dried fruit, fresh fruit! So then you get this bag, and you're like fuck - okay, that's a soup I'm going to have to cook, and what the hell am I going to have to buy to go with random items I don’t usually use. Sounds really pathetic, but you're really having choice taken away, and adding to your workload. To survive on a low income, you have to organise so much and this is a job in itself. It’s all these little details of hassle which add up to huge stresses. And ffs, it's not more food in the parcels that's needed, it's the cash. To spend on my drugs obviously!

It's all these little things which is the life on low income/benefits that some people don't understand otherwise they'd be fighting for it. Or they choose not to understand it because they simply don’t care.

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1 comment:

BCFG said...

I don't see why the government should give families a voucher, families should just get a balanced nutritional meal taking into account things like allergies (certainly) and religious convictions (probably).

In fact under a communist system everyone will get this given there will be no exchange, at least officially.

It isn't a question of trusting parents to spend, this is just so much bourgeois ideological piffle.