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: Shop

Welcome to our next ‘Live on £1’ participants:

Hi Everyone, we’re Archie and Sophie. We’ve both supported Norwich foodbank in various ways for a while, and as it’s Lent we decided to do the £1 a day food challenge. 

We’re both students at UEA (Sophie is studying Natural Science (maths, physics and biology), and Archie is studying Paramedic Science). We both ‘go’ to Kings Community Church in Norwich, and at the moment Sophie is part of the foodbank warehouse teams on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. 

We’ve decided to do the challenge for 7 days rather than 5, because surprisingly we thought that this might actually make it a bit easier – there was a little bit more wiggle room for buying extra bits like herbs, and the packet sizes worked better for 14 portions of meals than for 10! 

We chose to do our supermarket shop at Asda, firstly because it’s the supermarket we normally go to (so we know where things are!), secondly because they are fairly cheap for the basics anyway, and also because they have some cracking yellow-sticker bargains on a Sunday afternoon! We are so lucky to have the means to even get to a cheaper supermarket though – our nearest Asda is 3 and a half miles away – not fun when you’re carrying tins and on foot, and we’d have had to double our shop to make it eligible for delivery. We worked out that if we had bought our £14 worth of supplies at our local supermarket (a medium sized Co-Op) it would have been much more expensive at £28.24!.

We spent a bit of time before we went looking online and budgeting what we would eat each day so we had a rough framework for when we were in the shop. We started off by listing some basics that we definitely wanted to include – onion, garlic, herbs, sugar, milk and tea bags – those came to £3.51. Then we added breakfast – a pack of cornflakes at £0.53. Lunch, which was limited to bread, butter, lettuce and cucumber, a filling and a piece of fruit came to £5.80 leaving us £4.16 for dinner, which means 29p per portion – not easy! We settled on a bag of pasta, a bag of rice, 3 tins of tomatoes, a few tins of beans and a bag of carrots, which left us with £1 spare to spend on anything we saw that was on offer. 

When we actually got to the shop we were surprised to find many cheaper options than what they advertise online. Nearly all the smart-price range seems to be absent from the Asda app / website – which is awful at the moment when people for all sorts of reasons may not want to / be able to get to a physical shop and so would have to spend more. Luckily for us this did us a few favours – we ended up £1.43 under budget, leaving us room for a few extras. We decided to go shopping about an hour before closing time, thinking that we would get better deals – which we did, but unfortunately that meant the stocks of the things we actually needed were quite low! We couldn’t get any teabags (no 40 packs in stock, and 80 packs were far too pricey to fit in), and no semi-skimmed or skimmed milk (we had to opt for less whole milk and watering it down). 

We called in at Aldi, a Co-Op and a Tesco Express on the way home but none of them had any cheap teabags (although we did spend some of the remaining money on cheese sauce, biscuits and another loaf of bread)- so an early start is in order tomorrow! I don’t drink tons of tea, but I know that when I don’t have any for a few days I get really awful headaches so we decided it was worth trying to find some because (theoretically at least), teabags are cheaper than paracetamol! 

We made a big effort to try and include enough fruit and veg to get 5-a-day but we found it really almost impossible on such a budget. I think we’ll just about manage 3-a-day if we try! We also took into account 20p for salt and pepper. We weighed this out from the salt and pepper we already have (from Asda, using their prices = 3p for 75g salt and 28p for 10g pepper) – mainly because we didn’t want to end up with another half-used pot of each – but even this is a luxury many don’t have. 

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Norwich foodbank has collection points in most major supermarkets acorss the city – Asda, Co-op, Lidl in Sprowston, Morrisons, Sainsburys, Tesco, Waitrose – all of which, thanks to generous donors, are empited and collected at least once a week by volunteer drivers. The charity’s website http://www.norwichfoodbank.co.uk is kept up to date with what it’s needs are (currently fruit juice, tinned fruit, toilet roll and 40s / 80s teabags!) and it is incredible to see these items come in, without fail, after the website or social media has been udpated with these items. Project Manager Hannah says, ‘We are constantly humbled and delighted at the support we receive – from donations direct to us or via collection points, volunteers supporting us all day every day, financial gifts coming in by cheque or BACS and we know prayer and advocacy is being done all the time too. For ALL this, we thank you.’

Dawn Lent 2021 – Day 4

I made pancakes for breakfast with flour, oil and water, as we are running low on milk (oat and soya) I used up all the mixture cooking them for my daughter, so I don’t have breakfast. I am well enough (and chubby enough!) to miss the odd meal, unlike so many of the people who use the Foodbank, who often look unwell and malnourished.

I eat plain rice for lunch. I feel tired and hungry. Food is no longer something to look forward to but has just become functional. And boring. I spend a lot of my life thinking about food – it’s one of my greatest pleasures, especially cooking for others (not so possible in lockdown) but now it just feels bleak. I am already longing for the end of the week and the prospect of homemade pizza, roast veggie Sunday lunch… and I have heartburn (probably because of what I’m eating), so I’m feeling miserable. I have also put on 3lb, which is probably because my diet this week has been loads of carbs (white rice, flour, sugar, cheap biscuits – which were really horrible, but I ate them anyway). I wont even comment on my digestive system… Vegan diets are not necessarily healthy, especially if they have very little fruit or vegetables. How must it feel to have to live like this for more than a few days? Or to always have the worry that it might be like this again?

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Norwich foodank can cater for all sorts of dietary needs and often those served with specific requirements are the most grateful because these foods can be more expensive or harder to source (i.e. not available at a corner shop). So far in February, the foodbank hadeliver 352 food parcels and of these, 74 have been ‘specially’ made due to cooking facilities or dietary needs. Boxes of food that delivered usually need cooking with a hob and sometimes an oven (for example a Fray Bentos pie), but some people only have a microwave or kettle – especially those in temporary accomodation – and some have nothing at all (not necesarily homeless but quite often the case) so the charity ensures that not only the recipient receives a ‘full’ parcel, but that it is all appropriate for their circumstances.

With regards to dietary requirements, requests are made for vegetarian, Halal, diabetic, food allergy such as nuts and lactose and all are made to the best of the volunteer’s ability. This message was received from someone the foodbank delivered too:

‘I have a milk allergy and we are both vegan for compassionate as well as health reasons, and could not believe how thoughtfully the boxes had been packed. We want to extend out profound gratitude for what you have done for us and to let you know that your efforts have made our lives a tiny bit less awful.’

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 – Day 1

I went shopping and took my daughter along so we could double check the shop. What feels like a challenge rapidly become very anxiety inducing. I made a list and had an extras list in case we were under budget. How different this is to usual, when I just buy what we want and don’t really worry about the cost. We debate the ‘extras’ – shall we buy raisins to liven up the porridge? We don’t have enough. Or more veg? Ditto, not enough. Or something nice to go with our pancakes? We settle on 3 bananas. I have a car, so we go to Aldi (where we usually go) but I can see that, if I had to walk to the local Coop, my shop would be much more expensive… The poor, as we know, pay more.

Our total food cost is £9.64 for the week but with almost no vegetables (a cabbage, ½ cauliflower and 3 bananas). The rice and lentil portions look worryingly small (100g lentils and 200g rice a day seemed a lot but it actually isn’t). Syrup was too expensive, so we have sugar instead and lemon juice in a bottle (as it was cheaper than a real lemon).

So far, it’s not been too bad, though mostly because I ate 3 biscuits at work and had 2 cups coffee and then my best friend brought me cake for lunch (as she knew I was doing this). And then, someone sent my daughter birthday cupcakes (10 days late but very much welcomed!) and we had 1 each with a cup of tea. We plan to have another one while listening to Boris Johnson tonight.

Our menu for the week is:

Breakfast – porridge with sugar (raisons, fruit and syrup are out as too expensive)

Lunch – for me, leftovers: for my daughter – bagels with baked beans or spaghetti hoops (no margarine or vegan cheese – way too expensive).

Dinner – rice and dahl with cabbage every single night – we can stretch to potato or cauliflower fritters on 2 or 3 nights if I am careful.

Pudding – vegan pancakes (to cheer us up) with sugar and lemon (no fruit). We don’t usually eat pudding but flour is cheap and I don’t want my daughter to feel hungry.

Drinks – tea with milk or lemon juice. No coffee, no herb tea or rooibos (my usual favourite).

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Norwich foodbank receives referrals every day from people who say they are completely on their own with no friends or family to ask for help or who have exhausted these options due to family and friends personal constraints or embarrassment at needing to ask for help ‘again’. Our communities are so different from previous generations when people knew their neighbours and whole street and you could just pop round to ask for a bit of food or company or whatever was needed, because chances were you would do the same in return if / when needed. But currently, regardless of lockdown, this just rarely happens and so many people are genuinely alone and not known and worringly, the charity expects there are even more ‘hidden’ people in need who aren’t receiving their or any other support.

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.

Live on £1 a day 2021, Hannah’s shop

In 2019, Hannah (Project Manager for Norwich foodbank) and a few volunteers and supporters took up the idea of living on £1 a day for 5 days (in terms of food and drink) and wrote about their experiences. You can read their stories here: https://norwichfoodbank.blog/

2020 was a strange and challenging year for so many reasons and, rightly or wrongly, campaigns such as these weren’t run in quite the same way. But in 2021, routines have changed but are a little more ‘settled’ and Hannah and others have taken this idea up again to build a greater understanding and empathy with and for the individuals and families the foodbank serves every day, to highlight the difficulties tight budgets pose and, for some, as a personal Lent reflection at this important time for Christians all over the world.

Here are Hannah’s thoughts and comments on starting this 5 day period in 2021:

‘I had a read back through mine and other’s writings from 2019 as I wanted to remind myself why I was doing it, how I felt and if there was anything I could learn and do ‘better’ or differently this time. £5 does not give much leeway so, looking at my proposed shopping list and the items I bought in 2019, there were going to be only a couple of differences. In 2019, I bought a big bag of porridge oats and a bottle of squash totalling £1.74. I had a lot of both left over and while that is fine if living on this budget for a longer period of time – I would have technically more to spend the following week – it did feel like a ‘waste’ and I wondered at the time, could I have spent more wisely?

I am a creature of habit and I have toast with butter and marmite (huge fan) and a glass of fruit juice for breakfast every day. At the weekend I might add an egg or two, but this sets me up for the day and I enjoy it. Reading back on my previous breakfasts, the porridge really did fill me up, but I just didn’t want that this time and DID want toast so bread was firmly on my list. I decided eggs would be a good source of protein and although expensive (compared to other items), worth it. I toyed with the idea of having peanut butter, but decided on eggs as I could buy 10 and have one as snack if needed, whereas a spoonful of peanut butter didn’t feel like it would cut it! Time will tell… I decided to stick with cuppa soup for lunch and a loaf of bread meant I could have a slice at lunch too which would be more than I had previously, then a bag of pasta which would need do all 5 dinners with a combination of my 2019 additions of chick peas, baked beans, tinned tomatoes, fresh carrots and tinned sardines, but with an added tin of hotdogs for ‘variety’. I had added in a bottle of Aldi cola at 39p and fruit tea bags (couln’t afford my go-to rooibos and these were the cheapest hot drink I might enjoy – I don’t like green or peppermint tea), but switched to a bottle of lemonade as this was 29p and the cola put me over budget. I enjoy something sweet now and then and thought a fizzy, sweet drink would do the trick and was much cheaper than a carton of fruit juice or bottle of squash. Although thinking now, a bottle of squash would be only just more than the fruit tea and lemonade and could have done hot AND cold drinks…

I spent £4.98 and then had a panic when I got home as there was only 4 cuppa soups in the box and I thought there were 5 – I hadn’t checked to be fair. I looked back on the 2019 list thinking about shrinkflation (!) and saw there were only 4 then too, so the pasta stretched to 5 dinners and 1 lunch. I clearly have a very bad memory.

My shop is inadvertently dairy free, but as with last time, I’m thinking how much more difficult it would be for someone who has a gluten intolerance – the bread and pasta alone would have been half the budget I expect and not available every week at Aldi where I did my shop (there are often ‘specialbuys’ available, but these aren’t guranteed to be at every shop or that they meet the ‘right’ dietary needs).

I shopped on Shrove Tuesday, ready to start on Ash Wednesday and, while cooking pancakes AFTER dinner (a luxury for so many to have a pudding), I received a text from a client I had spoken to earlier in the day about sorting an ‘Energy Bank’ voucher to help with gas and electric. I hadn’t said when I’d do it, but the text asked if it would be today (it was 7pm) as she’d just gone into her emergency credit and was worried. I immediately sorted it out (we buy online voucher codes that are then presented at a PayPoint or Post Office machine for pre-payment meters) and thought about how grateful I am for hot water, gas and electric for cooking and heating and how I’ve never had to worry if there’d be enough for the day / the meal / the shower and how so many worry EVERY day. My £5 obviously isn’t going to cover the cost of cooking and I hadn’t really thought about this, but again this reminds me to be thankful.

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Norwich foodbank is part of the Trussell Trust UK-wide network, providing emergency food parcels for people referred to us by agencies or professionals who can help, advise and support the individual or family with underlying issues. The charity work with over 300 such ‘referral agencies’ including Citizen’s Advice, Shelter, Leeway, councils and Age UK.

Since the start of the pandemic, all 10 distribution centres closed and the foodbank moved to a 100% delivery model, taking referrals by phone and email and delivering direct to people’s houses on weekday afernoons and Saturday mornings. Lots of volunteers had to stop due to sheilding and ill health, lots of new people came forward to help out and, in February 2021, Norwich foodbank was approved as a frontline agency and around 80 actively involved, client-facing volunteers were able to get their first vaccination against Covid-19.

During the course of 2020, almost 15,000 food parcels were delivered – a 22% increase on 2019.

If you would like more information on the work of the foodbank, have a look at their wesite http://www.norwichfoodbank.co.uk or followon social media – Facebook = Norwich foodbank UK, Twitter and Instagram = @norwichfodobank

Live on £1 a Day: Emma Day 5

Breakfast – Weetabix with water. It’s pretty grim but here’s no milk and I didn’t have time to go to the shops yesterday. I feel terrible about not having time to do a top up shop, but I just couldn’t fit it in between work and picking up the kids. Being on a budget makes being organised about food that much more important, and I’m feeling the strain. I top the kids up with extra milk (not in budget), and I’m not working today so I can go to the shop. I’m feeling optimistic knowing that this is the last day of the Lent appeal.

I eat the last two remaining biscuits mid morning and then go to the shop. We need milk, bread and fruit and there is £1.17 left in the budget. I don’t have enough money for all of these, so I spend ages trying to decide whether milk is more important for the kids, or fruit. I don’t know if there’s a right answer, but I decide to prioritise milk (for the kids) and bread (for lunch).
In the shop my 3 year old is hungry, and tries to convince me to buy him treats. I would normally just buy him whatever he wanted without too much thought, as I can’t bear the thought of him being hungry. When we get to the checkout he has picked up a treat, and he passes it to the cashier to scan. She does so without asking me if that’s ok, so I have to ask to put it back, and the cashier looks surprised and then embarrassed.

It’s nice to have some fresh bread and we both enjoy lunch. Its not enough for my 3 year old and he also wolfs down a yogurt, banana and a bag of hula hoops – none of which are in budget.

It’s a long afternoon with no snacks. I don’t have the energy to play and run around after my son that I usually would, maybe its because its Friday afternoon after a long week, or perhaps because we’ve been living on empty carbs all day.

Dinner is chicken fillets, sauce made with carrots and tinned tomatoes, and spaghetti with frozen veg. I am so sick of spaghetti but the food tastes good, and its’s a hit with the kids. I would rather give them fresh meat but I know they are guaranteed to eat this frozen breaded stuff, and its cheaper. My husband would normally eat at least twice as much food as he has for dinner this evening, and its hard to watch the kids finish their meal and ask for more while we are still hungry. Knowing that this is our last meal of the lent appeal lifts our spirits.

I’m relieved I won’t have to choose between feeding myself or feeding my kids tomorrow, or worry about whether they are getting enough nutrition. The kids have cereal and milk for supper, and we go to bed counting our blessings, looking forward to a good breakfast tomorrow.

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Live on £1 a Day: Emma Day 4

It’s day 4 and I frankly can’t wait for this to be over.

I’m hungry and tired. We have run out of fruit and milk, and today will see the last of the bread. I look forward to finishing off the eggs for breakfast, and kids enjoy boiled eggs too so it’s win-win. I put spread on my toast without even thinking about it – although it’s not in budget. These apparently small things make such a difference – things I usually take for granted.

I am so grateful that we have tea bags in our shop this week. The tea and occasional biscuit (although today will finish them off) are keeping me going, and again I am so grateful to not have to worry about what the kids are eating during the day. There’d be nowhere near enough food if they weren’t eating at school.

Sandwiches (again) for lunch. I’m getting fed up of having the same thing over and over, and I think I can’t face it, but in actual fact I’m starving and eat it really quickly.

The afternoon goes quickly because I am busy with work, but everything does seem a bit harder / and I’m a bit more tired than usual.

I’m really looking forward to roasted chicken thighs for dinner. Protein and fat is just what I have been craving; the portions just aren’t big enough. The kids grumble but eat it anyway. Dividing up the food between 4 of us and deciding who gets bigger / smaller portions is by far the biggest challenge this week.

Thank goodness this will be over soon.

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All our bloggers have got to a point within their 5 day period of living on £1 where they’re looking forward to day 6. But for many people, this is daily life with no end in sight. One issue that’s very topical currently an could help people significantly is reducing the 5 week wait between making a Universal Credit claim and receiving the first payment. The Trussell Trust have launched a campaign called #5weekstoolong and you can join in by signing the petition to call on the government to reduce if not scrap this waiting time that is built into the claim period. Details are here: https://action.trusselltrust.org/5weekstoolong

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).

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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.