Hunger is a craving or need that most people experience, often on a daily basis. For the majority of people in the UK this need is satisfied pretty quickly with a snack or a meal. Indeed we, as caterers and food bloggers, like to exploit this craving by creating delicious meals and sharing our favourite recipes. Tragically there is a growing number of people in the UK, including children, who experience hunger on a daily basis – but they do not have the luxury of being able to eat when they are hungry. Parents go without food so that their children can eat. Children go to bed hungry. They go to school hungry. The UK is the fifth largest economy in the world yet we have people faced with the choice between hunger or the indignity of asking for help from charities. What can we do to help?
A Few Frightening Facts
It’s unbelievable that the UK has so many people living in poverty in 2018!
- 1 in 4 parents are skipping meals to ensure their children have enough to eat (End Hunger)
- A fifth of the population (about 14 million people) live in poverty.(Joseph Rowntree Foundation)
- 5 million people are destitute (Joseph Rowntree Foundation)
- 658,048 3 three day emergency food supplies were given to people in crisis by Trussell Trust foodbanks between April and September 2018, an increase of 13% on the same period in 2017.
- 8 million children & 2.6 million parents are trapped in poverty despite their family working (Joseph Rowntree Foundation)
- 67% of children growing up in poverty live in a family where at least one person works (Households Below Average Income)
- At least 320,000 people in the UK are homeless, according to Shelter, that’s 1 in 200 people.
- There is no official measurement of food insecurity in the UK.
The UN envoy, Philip Alston, produced a damning report on poverty in Britain. His findings conflicted with the government’s claim that there is no extreme poverty in the UK.
10 Ways Caterers Can Help
A year ago I wrote a detailed post on the 10 ways a caterer can help with homelessness and foodbanks Please find a summary as follows:
1 Suspended coffees
A suspended coffee is the advance purchase of a cup of coffee for someone who needs it, no matter why.
2 Café Art
Framed artwork created by homeless people is hung in cafes, and buyers meet up with the artists over a cup of coffee.
3 Pay As You Like
In return for a meal, the customer pays what the meal is worth – whether that is volunteering for the café, handing out flyers, or simply saying thank you.
4 No one eats alone on Christmas Day
This is pretty self- explanatory, where a café or restaurant provides food and company on Christmas Day.
5 Food Vouchers
Food vouchers are sold to customers, which can then be used to buy a homeless person a meal. (Walesonline)
6 Meal in a Bag
This is where a restaurant or café leaves bags of food (and sometimes warm clothing too) outside its doors at night.
7 Social Bite
A business that is cause driven; where 100% of its profits go to charity and 1 in 4 of its staff are formally homeless.
8 Providing training, jobs & housing support to the homeless
Where businesses fight homelessness by providing practical help.
9 Community Fridge
Community fridges are communal places where surplus food is shared in a community, by local businesses and individuals.
10 Donating Food
As a caterer you can donate surplus food to Fareshare, a non-profit charity, who then distribute the food to charities such as homeless shelters.
Examples of caterers helping others
The Wilbraham Arms in Nantwich, Cheshire
Publicans Ben and Wayne Taylor-Jones have launched a scheme to try and take the homeless and hungry off the streets and into safety. They currently help between 30 and 40 people a week. The give them “a butty and a brew” and offer them blankets and sleeping bags to take away. It’s costing them approximately £50 a week to do this! They are also looking into the possibility of opening a soup kitchen.
The Goring Hotel in Belgravia, London
The Goring Hotel has formed a partnership with the Passage Homeless Resource Centre, and launched the Hotel School . It teaches homeless people the basics of the hospitality industry and helps them into full-time work.
Second Shot in London
This café gives rough sleepers training and the confidence to find employment. The owner, Julius, works with one person at a time. He also operates the ‘Pay it Forward’ scheme and has given away over 7,000 coffees and 5,000 meals.
5 Ways Food Bloggers Can Help
A number of food bloggers are also caterers, so the examples given above would apply. However, it is more difficult for bloggers to help – unless you have a massive following that you can influence and/or you support a relevant charity. Here are some suggestions you may wish to consider –
1 Food Insecurity Bill
Currently the government does not collect statistics on how many people cannot afford to eat so they do not know the full extent of the problem. Back-bench MP Emma Lewell-Buck is calling on the government to support her Food Insecurity Bill, which would introduce a requirement for the government to measure household food insecurity. The bill is supported by 150 cross-party MPs who want to identify and tackle the rise in ‘hidden hunger’.
2 Free School Meals
School meals can help tackle childhood hunger. Unfortunately, recent changes under Universal Credit are likely to result in one million children missing out. The Children’s Food Campaign is recommending that free school meals should be provided to all primary school children. Not only would this ensure that all children receive at least one nutritious meal every day, it would also reduce the stigma associated with free school meals.
Bloggers could help by promoting the campaign for universal free school meals.
3 Fix Universal Credit
End Hunger UK is asking the government to fix Universal Credit so that people do not have to go hungry.
Again, bloggers could help to highlight the problems Universal Credit is causing and encourage support to fix it.
4 Support a Charity
Many food bloggers already support charities and actively engage in fund raising activities. For those who don’t, you may wish to consider doing so. There are so many to choose from.
I’m currently supporting Action Against Hunger. My daughter, Sarah, will be trekking to Everest Base Camp at the end of the summer in 2019 to raise money for Action Against Hunger – an amazing charity that provides clean water and food to over 50 countries.
5 Reverse Advent Calendar
Instead of opening doors on your own advent calendar to reveal a treat, a reverse advent calendar is where you put an item of food, or clothing, or toiletries aside each day in December. Your donations are then given to a charity to give to people in need. For more information click here.
Bloggers could post pictures of their reverse advent calendars and encourage others to do the same.
I always remember the above quote when I pessimistically think, what difference can I make. Even if you have a small following, if you can help just one person then that day hasn’t been wasted.
It is evident that people are falling through the gaping holes of our welfare safety net. Many believe that it shouldn’t be the job of charities and volunteers to plug these holes, and that the government should step up and ensure that no one goes hungry. Regrettably, I’m not sure that this would happen. If there is something we can do to help then I think we should try. I showcase those caterers that help others here. If there are other caterers or food bloggers that would like to be included, please let me know.
I’d love to hear from you if you can suggest other ways that caterers and food bloggers could help those that are hungry.