Today I am going to be sharing a very personal story with you, surrounding food banks. This all came about from Think Money getting in touch and asking me if I would like to write a post about how much £30 can buy you to donate to a food bank, to tie in with their article about rising food poverty in the UK. They kindly supplied the £30 used to purchase the items and left me to do.
My food bank story
Before The Trussell Trust, who most of us will associate with food banks, were even created, we were using food banks. Except back then they weren't called food banks – it was kind members of our church noticing that we had a need and providing for it. My mum was so encouraged by it that she created a ministry in our church called The Dorcas Ministry. The name was inspired by the Bible verse Acts 9:36 – “Now there was at Joppa a disciple [a woman] named Tabitha, which in Greek means Dorcas. She was abounding in good deeds and acts of charity.”
I was brought up observing the sheer determination that my Mum had. I remember her visiting supermarkets and factories, asking them for free food for her ministry. She wouldn't take no for an answer and we always left with amazing donations. Growing up in South Africa, poverty was everywhere we turned and when we came back to England there were still times where we had to rely on a food bank. My mum continued to help people out with food banks, setting up two more in England alongside the churches she was in. Along with dropping off food parcels to those in need, my mum offered practical help wherever she could. I remember typing up CVs for the people she was helping, babysitting and when I passed my driving test I was even driving the people she served to various appointments.
Even now, I find it embarrassing to admit that we relied on food banks at various stages of my upbringing – you might see tv programs showing how some people are unashamed about getting food from food banks, but for most people it is hard to admit that they have a need. Whilst right now we are enjoying the “high life”, having two incomes, low outgoings and no children, I am always aware of how easily things can change.
With the £30 that Think Money provided me, I decided that I wanted to buy some treats for the food bank. We buy a lot of economy branded items, not because we have to, but either because we prefer the taste or we want to spend our money elsewhere, but I wanted to give something nice to those in need. I decided to do the shop online so that I could easily stick to the £30 budget – shopping online allowed me to review the trolley before checking out.
I started adding a few nice treats and found that I had reached over £20 with just 12 items. Of course any donation to food banks would be great, but I realised how much further my money would go if I stuck to economy brands. Switching to economy meant that I was able to buy a ton more products.
Here's what I got for exactly £30:
ASDA Smartprice Baby Wipes 50p
ASDA Smart Price Porridge Oats 75p
ASDA Smartprice Corn Flakes 25p
ASDA Smartprice Wheat Bisks 75p
Asda Chosen By You Lemon Curd 59p
Asda Smart Price Crispy Rice 77p
Asda Smartprice Chocolate Hazelnut Spread 80p
Asda Smartprice Crunchy Peanut Butter 62p
Asda Smartprice Orange Marmalade 27p
Asda Smartprice Strawberry Jam 29p
ASDA SmartPrice Caramel Wafers 40p
ASDA SmartPrice Chocolate Chip Cookies 40p
ASDA SmartPrice Jaffa Cakes 40p
ASDA SmartPrice Milk Chocolate Digestives 44p
ASDA Smartprice Milk Chocolate Bar 30p
ASDA SmartPrice Dried Mixed Herbs 25p
ASDA SmartPrice Gravy Granules 20p
Asda Chosen By You Cream Crackers 40p
ASDA Smartprice Self Raising Flour 45p
ASDA Smartprice White Plain Flour 45p
ASDA Smartprice Sultanas 84p
Asda Smartprice Ready to Serve Custard 17p
Asda Smartprice Rice Pudding 15p x2
Whitworths Granulated Sugar 49p
ASDA Smartprice 80 Tea Bags 43p
ASDA Smartprice Instant Coffee Granules Medium Roast 47p
ASDA Smartprice Instant Hot Chocolate 58p
ASDA Smartprice All Purpose Liquid Cleaner 25p
ASDA Smartprice Smart Price Concentrated Biological Liquid Detergent 28 Washes £1.50
ASDA Smartprice Smart Price Kitchen Towels £1.38
ASDA Smartprice Thin Bleach 29p
ASDA Smartprice Toilet Tissue £1.95
ASDA Smartprice Washing Up Liquid 40p
ASDA Smartprice Long Life Skimmed Milk 49p
ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice 40p
ASDA Smartprice Pasta Shapes 29p
ASDA Smartprice Bolognese Pasta Sauce 39p
ASDA Smartprice Mild Curry Cooking Sauce 20p
ASDA Smartprice Tomato Ketchup 36p
ASDA Smartprice Apple & Blackcurrant Double Strength Squash 42p
ASDA Smartprice Orange Double Strength Squash 42p
ASDA Smartprice Orange Juice Drink 68p
ASDA SmartPrice Chopped Tomatoes in Tomato Juice 31p
ASDA SmartPrice Ham & Beef Paste 25p
ASDA SmartPrice Passata Tomato 35p
ASDA Smartprice Baked Beans & Sausages In Tomato Sauce 39p
ASDA Smartprice Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce 24p
ASDA Smartprice Chicken Soup 24p
ASDA Smartprice Meatballs in Tomato Sauce 40p
ASDA Smartprice Peach Slices in Light Syrup 35p
ASDA Smartprice Ravioli 39p
ASDA Smartprice Sardines in Tomato Sauce 34p
ASDA Smartprice Spaghetti Bolognese 24p
ASDA Smartprice Spaghetti Loops in Tomato Sauce 30p
ASDA Smartprice Spaghetti in Tomato Sauce 16p
ASDA Smartprice Tomato Soup 24p
ASDA Smartprice Vegetable Soup 24p
Asda SmartPrice Garden Peas in Water 21p
Asda SmartPrice Instant Mashed Potato 28p
Asda SmartPrice New Potatoes in Water 30p
Asda SmartPrice Peeled Plum Tomatoes in Tomato Juice 31p
Asda SmartPrice Red Kidney Beans in Water 23p
Asda SmartPrice Sliced Carrots in Water 19p
Asda Smartprice Grapefruit Pieces in Light Syrup 35p
Asda Smartprice Mandarin Pieces in Light Syrup 35p
Asda Smartprice Pineapple Pieces in Light Syrup 36p
Ye Olde Oak Ham £1
Even better, because I had ordered items online, I managed to get some substituted free of charge for the better brands.
I tried to get a wide variety of items, including vegetables, fruit, household items and a few treats. This lot filled my car boot for just £30!
I still cannot get over how much food I managed to get for just £30! After photographing the items we took them to a food bank collection in Sainsbury's – only to witness someone steal something that we had just put into the food bank collection trolley! I was so in shock that I am ashamed to say that I didn't even do anything about it apart from stare at the person with my mouth open in shock.
Even if you cannot afford to donate £30's worth of items on a regular basis, I encourage you to try to pick up something on your next shopping trip to donate. There are donation collection points in a lot of supermarkets, so you can just drop your donation in on the way out.
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