Within a mile of the Iceland on Kentish Town Road (the Trussell Trust’s find-your-nearest-foodbank map provides this information) there are two foodbanks: Chalk Farm and Camden.
A recent food banks report discovers 960 emergency food providers (food banks and soup kitchens) operating in the UK, and this may not be a complete list.
The Kentish Tower ran an article on then-new foodbank at Chalk Farm Baptist Church in April last year:
Who comes to the foodbank? In theory, people can receive a maximum of three vouchers in a row to discourage reliance, although longer term support is available at the discretion of the foodbank manager. “One thing that has surprised me is how open people are,” said Sammy, “when talking about their current situation. A lot of it is delayed benefits – or people who’ve had an injury and can’t physically work.”
I meant this post to be a compilation of a few pleasant links to celebrate Christmas, but then I got a dose of norovirus for the solstice, and if you have ever had norovirus you will understand, but if you haven’t yet: I spent Sunday feeling like complete crap, and the next couple of days recovering.
My best gift to myself was remembering that oral rehydration therapy would both be good to drink and do me good:
- 30 ml sugar : 2.5 ml salt : 1 liter water
- 2 tbl. sugar : 0.5 tsp. salt : 1 quart water
- 6 tsp. sugar : 0.5 tsp. salt : 1 liter water
ORT – simple solution of sugar and salt in water – is reckoned to be one of the biggest medical discoveries of the 20th century, which has probably saved more lives than any other. I wouldn’t have died of 24-hour norovirus: I am a strong healthy well-nourished adult. But people can die of prolonged vomiting/diarrhea due to dehydration and sodium depletion: and ORT both helps replenish fluid and the sugar solution helps the gut absorb the salt it’s losing. Although packets of ORT salts are manufactured under the supervision of WHO / UNICEF, anyone with access to water, sugar, and salt can mix up an ORT solution at home, and if you are even slightly dehydrated, it’s much safer to drink than plain water.
So, having cheered you all up: who’s going to watch The Bishop’s Wife? (BBC iPlayer til 30th December.)
The other night I was invited over to dinner by my parents, who – as they often do – treated this as their “dine out” night (they’re both retired and can afford to treat themselves to a meal out each week) and ordered a vegetarian curryfest from their favourite Indian takeaway.
As they often do, they ordered lavishly – and the leftovers were packed up to go home with me. I was walking down the hill to the bus stop, with the fragrant bag in my hand, when I noticed a man sitting against the wall with a blanket wrapped round him, having a smoke. Now, I like curry, but generally don’t eat it two nights running: and the food in the bag had never been taken out of the takeaway cartons. It was safe enough to share. So I asked the man if he’d like a curry, and when he said yes, handed him the bag, and went on my way. It wasn’t exactly generous of me (though I hope he enjoyed it) and was classically helpful/unhelpful: a good meal for a night for one homeless person, isn’t resolving the problem of people going to bed hungry.
On 10th December last year, I wrote a post entitled How Not To Help Foodbanks, in which I discussed why the need for foodbanks was rising and quoted Jason Kuznicki:
Do you want to give food? Add up its retail price. Take that money out of your wallet. Flush 90% of it down the toilet. Send the food bank the rest. You’re still helping more than if you gave the food.
925 million people are hungry.
Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes.
That’s one child every five seconds.
There were 1.4 billion people in extreme poverty in 2005.
The World Bank estimates that the spike in global food prices in 2008, followed by the global economic recession in 2009 and 2010 has pushed between 100-150 million people into poverty.
This year has been one of the wettest on record. In Edinburgh, we had the wettest April, May, June, and July since records began at the Royal Botanic Gardens in the 19th century. Across the UK:
Potato harvests are down by half in some areas. The NFU’s Scottish cereal survey indicated wheat yield was down by 18% from 2011, winter barley yield down 7%, spring barley yield down 18% and winter oilseed rape yield down 26%.
I’ve discussed this before (Scotland’s Food Programme) and also, for World Porridge Day, how stock brokers gambling on food prices rising is itself creating a bubble of high food prices to profit investors and make people hungry.