Archie & Sophie Lent 2021: Day 3

The general, ever-present hunger is definitely starting to set in now. I started getting hungry for dinner at about half past 3 – normally I’d easily keep going until 6PM before I even thought about what was for tea! I’ve also been craving meat a lot – which is strange because I’ve been happily vegetarian for the last 1½ years and never before have wanted to go back. I will have to see if it persists or not but luckily the budget didn’t stretch to meat so there’s nothing to be tempted by

This week has also made me consider a lot more about waste. We’ve really made sure that we get everything out of every tin whereas normally if a few baked beans were left in the tin I’d probably give them to the dishwasher rather than scrape them out. After a busy day I was somewhat on autopilot when cooking dinner – and I started peeling our solitary potato and then put the peel into the bin… before realising that that’s a good tenth of a potato (and lots of fibre and nutrition) that we could have eaten! I was careful not to make this mistake again when preparing the rest of the meal – but I’d never usually think about eating absolutely 100% of everything I buy, even though I do try to be waste-conscious and not buy tons more than I need. 

I am also definitely discovering a few things I’d gladly have again even though I’d previously always gone for the branded versions. The cheap tin of soup we had today tasted no different to the branded version (I’m sure you can guess which…) which I normally buy. To be honest, there’s nothing this week that I would avoid eating again (although I might tweak some of the quantities up a little!)

Breakfast: Cornflakes, Sugar, Tea

Lunch: Half a tin of tomato soup, 3 small slices of toast with butter, tea and a biscuit

Afternoon snack: Half an apple and another biscuit

Dinner: Bean and tomato hotpot (recipe below) with rice. 

Ingredients:

1 tin baked beans, 1 tin chopped tomatoes, 2 small/medium carrots, 1 medium baking potato, ⅔ of an onion, Half a tsp salt, Half a tsp pepper, 1 Tsp mixed herbs, Generous tablespoon of margarine

Melt the margarine in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Chop the onion finely and fry. Whilst this is cooking, dice the potatoes and carrots so that the pieces are no bigger than a 1cm cube. Add these, season with salt, pepper and herbs and put the lid on the pan. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, add the beans and tomatoes. Rinse each tin out with half a tin’s worth of water and add that too. Then, simmer for approx. 30 mins. Serve with rice, potatoes, pasta or bread. 

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Archie & Sophie Lent 2021: Day 2

Last night I couldn’t sleep (despite a very filling dinner) so watched a film in bed. I was very tempted to have a snack to help me stay awake but managed to restrain myself! A lie in the next day as I had a day off made it a bit easier to get from breakfast through to lunchtime (as there was less time between them). Even this was a luxury though – I usually work 12-hour shifts and I don’t know how I’d manage to do that on £1 a day worth of food, and lots of people have other responsibilities to get up for too! 

I have found myself thinking about food a lot recently – whether that is the psychological effect of being limited in what I’m eating or a genuine desire to have a bag of crisps every five minutes I’m not sure! So far neither of us have felt desperately hungry which is a relief, although I think it’s fair to say we’ve both been a little grumpier than usual! 

We made some stuffing sandwiches for lunch (an unusual but cheap filling which we both could agree on!). I had to unexpectedly rush into work for a late shift, so I took some of the leftover sauce with rice for dinner. I left it as late as possible before I ate, because I wasn’t finishing until midnight and wanted to string it out as long as I could but I finally cracked at about half nine. It was slightly torturous when people were passing round mini eggs and ordering McDonalds but I managed to restrain myself! 

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Norwich foodbank is heavily reliant on volunteers and during the pandemic, the charity has been delighted, humbled and at times overwhelmed with the generosity of time offered by exisiting volunteers to take on new roles or more tasks, and new people wanting to get involved because they can.

Pre-covid, the charity utilised around 200 volunteers across it’s 10 distribution centres, in the warehouse, in the office, in the transport team, at the holiday project FISH and at supermarket colelctions. Some volunteers helped weekly, others on a rota perhaps fortnightly or monthly and others on an adhoc basis.

Since March 2020, the charity has worked in quite a different way – not least with all centres closed and a 100% delivery model in palce – and currently has around 90 active volunteers involved regularly.

Archie & Sophie Lent 2021: Day 1

A bit of an early start today as I wanted to make it to Asda and back before breakfast so I could have a cuppa before I started working! Luckily they did have stock of Smart Price teabags – phew! 

Today was quite a busy day for us both – with Archie busy with uni all day and Sophie having a combination of online lectures and a Foodbank shift. We started off the day with cornflakes, sugar, some watered down milk and a cup of tea. Not the most nutritious breakfast but tricky to see how you could make it any better without spending more! It did fill us up for the morning though. Normally we’d have either cereal with fruit on it, or toast – but for the sake of variety we tried to limit our intake of bread to lunchtimes only.

I did feel a bit peckish during the morning and definitely in the late afternoon (especially as last week’s birthday cake was looking at me and calling my name!). We bought a pack of biscuits for these occasions, so luckily we had something to snack on in the morning, and (thanks to a bread miscalculation earlier today!) had an extra slice of toast in the afternoon too. Sophie thinks her foodbank shift felt much harder today than it normally does, and I have to admit I found my concentration going and even drifted off to sleep at one point when I was meant to be working despite having a good night’s sleep before! 

Menu today:

Breakfast: Cornflakes with Sugar & Milk, Tea/Water 

Lunch: Tinned Spaghetti on 2 small bits of toast, half an apple, water

Dinner: Sardiney-carrotey-tomatoey pasta (see recipe below), water, buiscones (see recipe below; it made 4 generous portions)

Ingredients: 2 x tins tomatoes, 1 x ‘value’ tin of sardines in tomato sauce, 300g bag of reduced, out of date chopped carrots, 3 stalks of thyme (from a community garden in a nearby park), ⅓ onion, 2 tsp mixed herbs, salt and pepper, small bit of margarine to fry, Strong mug of black tea

Method: Fry onion in margarine for a few minutes. Then add carrot and fry for a few more minutes. After that, add the herbs and some salt and pepper. Chop the sardines with a sharp knife, and add them along with the tomatoes and tea. 

This was really quite nice actually! The sardines and black tea (a tip from Jack Monroe) added a lot of flavour. It would have been nice with some cheese in it or on top but that was a luxury which didn’t fit into the budget. We allowed ourselves a bit of extra pasta above the recommended portion, on account of the fact we have twice as much rice as pasta to use up. We definitely needed it by 7:30! 

Biscuones (made 5):

Ingredients: 50g margarine, 50g sugar, 100g self raising flour, about 2tbsp of milk/water mix

Method: Cream margarine and sugar, add in half the flour, then the milk, then the rest of the flour. Spoon onto tray, bake at 180 for about 15 minutes (check after 10). 

These were… pretty odd but ok! The main thing we struggled with today was that we were still pretty hungry after we ate lunch, so have saved a few of these for tomorrow. The consistency is weird – crispy on the outside like a biscuit, but inside like a cross between a scone and a cake. Eggs didn’t fit into the budget, and we got self-raising flour because we thought it would be more versatile than plain flour, so this was the best we could come up with – but it contained carbs and sugar so it ticks all the boxes! 

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Pre-covid, Norwich foodbank put together recipe kit bags of ingredents, containing all the items needed and a simple to folow recipe. Several of these were taken (with permisison) from Jack Monroe’s various cookbooks and the author donated several copies which were given out to interested clients. The recipe bags proved popular as it gave people an extra meal or treat alongside the food parcel, there was no worry about ‘I don’t have this item’ because everything was included and there was an element of choice because we had several kits available so people could have the one they fancied. The charity provided kits for corned beef hash, spaghetti bolognaise, fishcakes, soups and cakes and received positive feedback. Pancake kits were given out on Shrove Tuesday this year and the general concept will definitely be repeated!

Dawn Lent 2021 – Day 3

Breakfast was oat pancakes with (the very precious) banana – not entirely successful but we ate them anyway as we are both really hungry. I cracked and made coffee – worryingly, my headache stopped. Coffee was not in my weekly budget, so I have cheated (again). Lunch was very boring. My daughter went to Coop with our remaining 34p to see if she could find anything in the bargain section (preferably a vegetable of some sort) but there was nothing – even an apple cost 40p. There were no loose potatoes and a bag cost 90p. So – rice and lentils for tea again.

I met a friend for a walk after work and we usually have a coffee (from the mobile café in an old horsebox). I have to ask him if him will pay, which is embarrassing. He is fine about it but I wonder how this would feel long term? (He also bought me a flapjack which was marvelous!) I haven’t included coffee in my weekly budget so I can’t even bring a flask of coffee (assuming I have one). I suspect I would feel really ashamed and wonder if I would start to avoid meeting up? Would I start to lose my friendships? This is something that had NEVER occurred to me before… that poverty can cause even greater isolation, at a time when people need each other most. So far, this is the worst thing that I have realised all week, and the one that makes me feel most saddened.

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Pre-covid, Norwich foodbank operated from ‘distribution centres’ where people who have been referred would collect their food parcel and any extras (toiletries, pet food, occasionally fresh items such as end of the day produce from supermarekts). All 10 Norwich foodbank centres (covering Wroxham, Wymondham, Loddon and all areas in between) had free tea, coffee / cold drinks and biscuits and 3 centres also offered a free hot meal, thanks to the church and volunteers for this provision. With specific regards to the meal-sites, lots of people would come for the food parcel at the start of the session and stay til the end – it was somewhere safe and warm and welcoming and, if appropriate and ‘wanted’, plenty of volunteers were around to chat and help and support.

This is something that is missing from the current ‘covid-secure’ delivery model – a phone call referral, a reasonably quick doorstep delivery and that’s it. Not much interaction and little ‘contact’ and we know in this current climate, lonliness at worst can be a killer and at the very least has a big impact on mental health.

Dawn’s comments about meeting up with a friend does remind us once again that for some in our community, they are very isolated and a foodbank delivery might be the only contact they have.

Dawn Lent 2021 – Shop

We decided we would make it vegan for the week – we are vegetarians but do mostly eat vegan food as my daughter is allergic to dairy. This means I had to have a serious think about what we could afford… If I buy vegetables, there is almost no protein and nothing that would really fill us up, so I’m prioritising rice and lentils – and vegetables depending on what we have left over. I realise that this is going to get really boring really quickly… and, contrary to popular myth, vegetables are NOT cheap. I’m starting to feel a bit desperate already and it all starts to look pretty bleak.

I have tried to chivvy my daughter along, but she is already grumbling about not being allowed to have beer or pizza on Friday night. I feel pretty miserable. How bloody awful this is for people who have to live like this all the time – and especially in lockdown.

I am going to cheat a bit and use the ½ cauliflower we have in fridge and spices I have in the drawer and homemade lemon pickle that I make with left over lemon peel last week.

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Norwich foodbank often receives bulk donations of items such as 5kg of pasta, 5l of oil and catering packs of teabags and the cahrity aren’t able to split them down. However, support is available through community kitchens who make mass meals such as FoodCycle and some churhces – not all are open due to current restricitons – but it’s great to be able to support them with donations and use the items that are far too big for most of the households we serve.

What can be tricky sometimes is the lack of knowledge or confidence in ‘cooking’ and so lentils and pulses and other items are sometimes just not known or understood by those we serve, so it’s a joy to hear from people who say ‘I love to cook’ or ‘do you have…’ and if we can say ‘yes’ it’s lovely to know these items will be used and appreciated and enjoyed alongside the food parcel.

Hannah Lent 2021 – Day 5

I felt more than a little relief this morning that today was the last day of this ‘challenge’ for me, that tomorrow I could eat what I wanted and that I had more bread that I expected left, plus a double portion of pasta as I wouldn’t need it for lunch so could have a bigger tea. I know I didn’t have to use it all up, but it’s a little about food waste as well as budgeting so I was pleased to not have much left, especially compared to 2019, but I know that was only a small part. At the end of the 5 days, I had a few fruit teabags left.

Eggy bread, fruit tea and lemonade followed by quite a lot of cleaning up from yesterday and a trip out – to Homebase – and another fruit tea and lemonade preceded a lunch of baked beans and hotdogs on toast. Very nice and quite ‘normal’ for me which was even nicer.

A fairly relaxed afternoon, but I have to admit to already planning my lunches and a couple of dinners for the coming week. As I mentioned in the 2019 blog, I am very big on meal planning both for structure and being organised in this aspect of life at least, but also this helps with budgeting and a really meaningful shopping list so I did spend a bit of time going through the cupboards and freezer, working out what I had, what I would be cooking / eating and therefore what I needed to buy.

I prepared my lunches for Monday and Tuesday and, as usual, flung a few handfuls of pasta into the saucepan but weighed it out of interest after I had put in what I considered ‘enough’. It was almost 300g and this was to do 2-3 lunches. Again I questioned am I overeating or was the 85g portions of the past week significantly less than a ‘standard’ portion? I must google that… I did, 180g is considered a ‘standard portion’ so I wasn’t far off with my lunch weight (I consider a lunch to be a smaller portion than a dinner) and my dinners this week have been just under half the standard, hence my now justified evening hunger pangs.

For the past few months at least, I have favoured a Jack Monroe Veganish recipe (which I make un-vegan!) of caesar dressing and I find it absolutely delicious with cold pasta, veg and ham but I haven’t considered how much this is per portion. I still haven’t done the maths but my lunches had a few slices of wafer thin ham, garden peppers, celery, chick peas (no I haven’t had enough, I love them) and the ceasar dip is made with fat free greek yoghurt, olive oil, yeast flakes, mustard, lemon juice and pepper. If I bought all these things outright, some of the items would only last the week (the veg, ham and yoghurt), the other bits would do a few weeks at least, but the outlay at the beginning would be significant. I love this lunch and have missed it and am looking forward to it even more now having taken all this into account.

Dinner at 6.30pm ish was a double portion of pasta, and the rest of everything else – chick peas, baked beans and sardines, with carrots. I was looking forward to a ‘proper’ plateful (I have been told that our dinnerplates are especially large (!) but this week I have been eating out of a bowl to make it look ‘full’) but I’m a little ashamed to say – but being honest – I didn’t eat much more than half. I think part of it was sheer boredom of the same old flavours or lack of flavour 5 days in a row, part of it was I didn’t care if I was hungry later as I would ‘OK’ tomorrow and part of it was I knew I still have toast and a boiled egg if I really wanted it. Of course I did, so about 8.30pm I had that and really enjoyed it. Eggs are a definite keep if I do this again, as is bread – for me at least.

I’ve been mulling over my conversation with Diane about ‘lasting change’ and my church group are starting a 24/7 Lent course on Prayer this coming week. One of the strands is about fasting and so I read about this particular element when I went to bed, thinking if this is something I could do more often and how it might work. I immediately started thinking ‘it could help me lose / maintain weight’ and then almost as quickly thought ‘but that’s not the point!’ The piece I read said it didn’t have to be about food but could be a fast from talking, social media, screens in general or look at the ‘Daniel Diet’ and only eat vegetables, cutting out rich or ‘fancy’ foods (I’m paraphrasing).

The thing that’s struck me the most about this time is my attitude. I weigh myself each Sunday morning and this Sunday I was 4lb lighter than last week. Not a huge surprise as I’ve eaten relatively little in 5 days so it may well all go back on by next Sunday, but part of me did think on Wednesday when I started, this may help kickstart me into eating less and therefore help with weight control. I don’t think I have a problem with weight, but there it was at the start and end of this period so maybe I need to consider this a bit more.

The point of fasting in a Christian / religious sense, as I understand it, is to focus more on God and the time spent on doing the thing you’ve stopped, you should be spending with God in prayer or study or meditation. I have definitely felt more empathy with those we serve this week, knowing I will ‘go back’ to how I can and do live and eat but for so many what they face today if what they will face tomorrow and the day after and the day after… but I haven’t prayer any more than I usually do and I had thought I would or at least try to.

This will be my takeaway from this experience – not only the gratitude for what I have, but that I will do some form of ‘fasting’ more regularly and use the time I gain more wisely and purposefully.

END

Stay tuned as we have a mother and daughter doing this Lent idea this coming week, following a vegan diet…

Hannah Lent 2021 – Day 4

I’m sticking with eggy bread, fruit tea and lemonade for breakfast and have counted the slices of bread I have left – enough for 3 more slices today if I need them, plus the same (4 slices altogether) tomorrow if needed.

We’re in the middle of redecorating our bedroom and today’s task was continuing to strip the old wallpaper and fill the holes on the walls we’d already done. We started this about 9.30am and I had a fruit tea and lemonade about 11.30am. Starting to feel a little hungry but this took the edge off and didn’t stop for lunch til just after 1pm. Soup, toast and a boiled egg didn’t fill the hole entirely but there was plenty more to do during the afternoon so it would be good to be busy.

We stopped around 5pm and I decided it was too early to be cooking tea so had another fruit tea and watched a bit of TV til 6pm ish then had a bigger dinner than I’ve had all week, knowing what I had left only needed to last one more day: pasta, hotdogs, baked beans, carrots and chick peas.

I thought about parents and families who’s children would be eating ‘early’ and so they might be cooking and eating at 5pm and then easily would be hungry again later in the evening and there wouldn’t necessarily be any more food to share or spare. I have a friend with 4 children and when I go round for dinner (pre-covid of course), they would be pestering mum for a snack while dinner was cooking, pudding or something to eat after – and we always ate ‘well’ in terms of a balanced plate and plenty of it – and all of them would want something during the evening. Often they would have crisps or fruit or a biscuit and while none of these alone are necessarily ‘expensive’, they all add up and the cost could easily provide another meal and that is a choice so many families across the UK have to make – a snack now or a meal tomorrow.

If you read Emma’s story from 2019, you’ll see this kind of situation reflected. She took her toddler on the shop and he grabbed a treat near the till and the cashier put it through without asking Emma. She requested it be put back as it wasn’t affordable in the budget but how many of us grab a last minute treat for ourselves or our loved ones without needing to do the maths of whether or not we have enough money?

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Norwich foodbank has run a project called FISH – ‘Food (and Fun) In School Holidays’ – since 2014. Local clubs were set up all over the foodbank’s geographical patch – coving Wymondham, Wroxham, Loddon and in between – and schools were asked to invite and register families who may struggle during the holidays when free school meals weren’t available.

In the summer of 2014, around 300 children attended at least 1 session and had a free hot meal, pudding and took part in free fun activities provided either by the volunteers from local churches and the community who helped to staff the club, or bought in with funding including Banham Zoo, Norwich Puppet Theatre and The Garage who provide music and dancing workshops.

Many clubs also ran sessions in the October half term, a Christmas dinner hamper in the Christmas holidays, February half term, Easter and May half term, with a few running in the long school summer holidays only.

During the pandemic, while vouchers for families were made available, thanks in part to the Marcus Rashford campaign, we heard of several schools and families where this wasn’t administered quickly or ‘well’ and so many were still struggling financially when schools remained closed. Several FISH clubs adapted quickly, as so many charities and other groups had to, and provided either takeaway meals for families to collect, or recipe kits including all the ingredients needed for a family meal. They also provided activity packs, some from their own resources and also given to the foodbank from Norfolk County Council and Norfolk and Norwich Festival Bridge.

Hannah Lent 2021 – Day 3

Following on from thoughts about a long day, I soft boiled (I hope!) two eggs for a snack and had tinned tomatoes on toast for breakfast. Not as filling, but I have a meeting right before the deliveries so I’m hoping that will not only provide me with a cup of coffee (I’m not missing the caffeine as I usually drink decaf everything but I am missing the flavour and variety of drinks) and also a welcome distraction from hunger.

I’m on my own in the office on a Friday so had a couple of cups of fruit tea and a boiled egg about 11am (soft, hooray!) and that was both delicious and hit the spot. My meeting and preparing for the deliveries took me through to 2.30pm and I had my cuppa soup, toast and carrot sticks for lunch. There were a few back and forth trips to the warehouse to check on tasks and new shifts and then I was in the warehouse to prepare for Saturday deliveries at about 4.45pm. I had a piece of bread with the other soft boiled egg and this again was tasty and filled the hole in between now and dinner.

The route planning was a bit a more complicated than usual and we had 33 deliveries to get ready so I wasn’t home til 7.30pm. I was pleased that my pasta etc wouldn’t take long to cook and also that the evening was already well underway, and didn’t feel any more tired than I do normally at the end of a week.

Pasta, hotdogs, tomatoes and chickpeas were my dinner – I didn’t think I needed something as filling as the sardines or baked beans tonight but I did feel hungry again only an hour later.

It feels good to be just over halfway through the 5 days, and I have a reasonably busy weekend ahead, and so I’m feeling positive. But I know for the 33 households we are serving tomorrow and the 22 we delivered yesterday (some individuals, some couples and some families; some in their own property, some in temporary accommodation) may not have any hope for a better week ahead and may have been living with financial and other burdens for a long time already. I’m grateful that I haven’t been in that position and I’m not now and for the many, many choices and decisions I can make every single day.

END

Norwich foodbank accepts referrals from agencies, but in the past 6 months, were successful for a grant bid to employ a dedicated Citizen’s Advice worker who would work exclusively with those in need of and / or using the foodbank. In January 2021 alone, 45 referrals were made to Stuart our CA worker – that’s 45 households who accepted further help with their circumstances. We don’t yet have details of ‘outcomes’ but are looking forward to knowing how many of these have been able to sort out long or short term issues and therefore wont’ need to us again. That’s our vision – an end to the need of foodbanks.

Hannah Lent 2021 – Day 2

After my sort of burnt egg on toast yesterday, I decided to go another way for breakfast and do eggy bread. This worked much better, although interestingly (if you think so!), wasn’t as filling. Maybe I ate it quicker. I still had a headache when I got up so had a glass of lemonade and a mug of fruit tea with breakfast, plus paracetamol. I wouldn’t have been able to afford these on my budget and although of course not technically food / drink, something I always have in the drawer for which I am grateful not to have to specifically budget for. I also have plenty of toilet roll, feminine hygiene products, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, shower gel… Again, I keep stocked up on these essentials and we do give them out with foodbank parcels when requested. We had a referral for a man today who was using newspaper as he had run out of loo roll. I am grateful for my stash of toiletries today.

I got to work and am with Diane today, so got a cup of tea AND a coffee later in the morning. Hooray! With so many in our office building working from home or at least not in the office every day, the communal fridge is pretty empty, so since the first lockdown I’ve rather commandeered the top shelf as ‘ours’ and as the others in the office aren’t in all day, it’s sort of ‘mine’ 🙂 Diane commented that the shelf didn’t have my usual pots of pasta and what would I have lunch today. I told her and we chatted a little about what I was doing and why. We agreed it was important that doing anything like this – including fasting or a bible study or anything we talk about / learn about in a church context (one of my reasons for this is due to wanting to do some kind of Lent reflection), it needed to have lasting change. Like giving up chocolate for Lent just makes you wish Easter Sunday would come quickly or a new year’s resolution is often broken before the end of January! I wrote in my first piece that I wanted to feel more empathy with those we serve and that is totally true, but I also wanted to remember to pray when I felt hungry or frustrated or anything like that and yesterday, I didn’t. I just felt these things. but today I did on a few occasions pray for those we would be serving today, especially when my stomach was making a lot of noise.

We had a referral for a man who was staying in a hotel due to being homeless, but wasn’t allowed ‘back’ (we don’t know what time he left, but presume in the morning) until 7pm, so with our deliveries taking place between 2pm – 5pm, we would need to arrange to meet him somewhere to give him the food parcel. We were really surprised, with the current lockdown / restrictions that this was ‘OK’ and also thought ‘what on earth is he supposed to do?!’ If he’s technically homeless and needing us, he hasn’t got spare money to get on a bus to get warm or go somewhere and even if he did, there’s nowhere to go anyway. And yet when our driver met him and gave the food parcel, he was still able to be grateful.

Today there were 19 households to deliver to and so Keith, Diane and I prepared these for the drivers – getting the boxes out, toiletries picked and packed and loaves from Bread Source (that we receive 3 times a week) bagged up with the day’s EDP (delivered daily, courtesy of Aviva). The drivers came, loaded and went and the 2pm warehouse shift arrived.

At 2.30pm I had my cuppa soup and toast and considered ‘cheating’ with a coffee mid-afternoon but decided against it… Confession is good for the soul…?

I got home at about 5.30pm but decided it was too early to start tea as it wouldn’t take long to cook and I would be hungry later so I did a bit more work and watched TV and ate at about 6.30pm. Tonight’s delight was pasta (of course), some tinned tomatoes, chick peas and 2 tinned hotdogs. This was nowhere near as filling as last night’s tea – maybe the fish gives a little more ‘something’ and the baked beans clearly had more to fill me up than the tomatoes. Another lesson for the coming days and another year.

A glass of lemonade, a fruit tea and carrot sticks made my evening snacks and washing up and family zoom helped to pass the time! I thought about tomorrow – on Fridays I work late and this can mean I’m not home til 7.30pm some weeks. We deliver on Saturday mornings so Keith and I have agreed that he’ll meet the drivers on a Saturday morning, and I’ll get the boxes and toiletries ready the evening before. Referrals come in til 5pm, so we (one of the afternoon volunteers Trevor kindly stays to help) then need to get them all entered and routed before we can get the boxes and extras ready. Anyway, that made me think I’ll need a little more food to take to work and so I’ll take a boiled egg and another piece of bread (still leaves me a slice ‘spare’ for both Saturday and Sunday), plus some tinned tomatoes. I had thought of beans, but after tonight’s dinner, I need these for my evening meal.

END

Norwich foodbank provides a 3-day foodbank parcel, and also essential toiletries subject to supply, which is healthy thanks to the generous community of supportive donors. Some people request general toiletries, others will ask for specific things and during the first lockdown in 2020, we were pleased to have a healthy stock of toilet rolls before the panic buying set in and shelves were emptied.

The charity also provides nappies and baby food for those who need it and pet food (mainly dog and cat but occasionally hamster and other pet food is donated / requested). Alongside the food parcels, there is often ‘surplus’ food – either short dated items, fresh items (such as bread mentioned above) including eggs and fruit and veg from donors and FareShare which helps the ambient food given stretch that bit further and provides some treats too when we have sweets and crisps to include.

Thank you to all our donors for giving so faithfully and generously.

Live on £1 a Day: Emma Day 3

I’m really feeling it now.  I’m tired and hungry and fed up.

Breakfast is weetabix for everyone.  The kids also have yogurt (not in the budget) and we share banana.

In my rush to leave the house I forget my lunch (chicken sandwiches).  I could cry, but realise that I have always taken for granted that when that happens, I can pop out and get something else.  I count my blessings.  

Dinner looks good.  The kids love the potato wedges and spaghetti hoops, but I wish we had some protein and more veg.  I’d love a roast chicken right now. I’m hungry again very quickly after dinner and eat some biscuits.  My husband is very hungry, he could have eaten twice this amount.  I’m finding it a challenge to know how the share out the food we have.  The kids are small so should they get less, or more because they are growing?  My husband could eat more than the rest of us put together, so should he get more?  I don’t know.  How can I make these choices?

I top up the kids with fruit and milkshakes (not in the budget).

END

We know that mums often go without food and other expenses (new clothing for example) to ensure their children are fed and clothed and have their needs met and we expect that there are several partners who ensure their other half is seen to before themselves also – so they are at least 3rd in line in terms of needs being met.

In the film ‘I, Daniel Blake’, one thing that struck many viewers was when Katie (the female lead), on receipt of her food parcel, opened a tin immediately and started eating. Many were shocked, but sadly this is something we see every week at least during the foodbank session. Due to time constraints or embarrassment, people often come to the foodbank after they have exhausted all other options and sometimes haven’t eaten for days.

All of our centres offer hot and cold drinks as well as biscuits and cake for those who come for our help, but 3 centres also offer a free hot meal for foodbank clients. This not only means the 3 day parcel stretches that bit further, but a hot meal can be enjoyed immediately and we are showing that little bit more care and love to those who access our service.