I feel really conflicted about food banks. To me, they represent the very best and the very worst of where our country is at these days. Today I spent time collecting food with Fare Share, a local food bank, which illustrated exactly this point.
At Tesco’s in Boundary Road I spent some time with staff from Fare Share, Tesco’s and lovely volunteers. We greeted customers as as they arrived and asked them to add a little something to their shopping to deposit as they left. The great thing is that Tesco’s add 30% to the total after a weekend of collections.
The generosity of people is almost heartbreaking. People with so little money to spare were giving so much. Seven whole ‘cages’ of food were donated and several more were collected after I left. If you look at the photo below you’ll see one of a line of trolleys – that was taken by a Fare Share volunteer in the main Hove Tesco after someone (not the guy in the photo who is a volunteer) who heard a story about what food banks do and went and filled seven trollies with food and donated it!
We live in a community filled with kindness and people that are capable of huge acts of caring.
Yet we also live in a country that has to give free food to people to keep them alive and nourished. This is where the conflict comes in for me. It sickens me that for many people work isn’t paying enough to feed them and our welfare state no longer offers security to those most in need. Always bear in mind that to receive this food people must be referred by medical staff or social services, its not done on a whim.
So thank you to those people I met today for showing us all how our community spirit lives on. I know as your MP that I must carry the injustice of what food banks represent to parliament and do all I can to challenge a system that perpetuates food poverty in our society – I promise I’ll do all I can to make that heard load and clear.
In the mean time, I hope you’re enjoying the weather by getting out-and-about. Two recommendations for the weekend: Firstly, Paddle Round The Pier on Hove Lawns which gets bigger and better every year. And Secondly, check out a free exhibition in the Naked Eye Gallery in Farm Road, Hove, which has a stunning set of paintings from a Worthing-based artist which are inspired by our coastline. Let me know if I’m missing out on anything too! All the best, Peter