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Too poor to eat properly

(337 Posts)
Nannyto3 Thu 10-Jan-19 14:28:50

The media seems awash with the fact that families living on Universal Credit or who are otherwise disadvantaged can't afford to eat properly, with children going hungry.
I feel so sorry for people in this situation. But I do wonder just how much 21st century expectations of what constitutes a proper meal (and how to cook it) are to blame.

Years ago we, our mothers and grandmothers cooked most things from scratch, using cheap cuts and whatever was in season to keep costs down.

Even now I make a chicken stretch to 4 different meals for the two of us. I make soup every day out of whatever vegetables I have to hand. Mince is cheap and so versatile and features heavily in our weekly meals. I use my slow cooker on a frequent basis to produce cheap, nutritious meals.

I long to be able to tell families who are struggling just how easy it can be to cook good, wholesome food at a reasonable cost.

Nonnie Thu 10-Jan-19 17:23:25

We need to ask why the 'are obliged to use food banks' and address that issue.

Baggs Thu 10-Jan-19 17:26:23

cabbie's post makes me wonder if at least part of the problem is less one of food poverty but more one of housing poverty. People who only have access to a kettle for 'cooking' clearly are not well-housed.

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 17:28:09

Long term poverty is all encompassing, I think.

Cold Thu 10-Jan-19 17:34:14

I wonder how many of us could cope with 1-2 months of absolutely no income? This is the average wait if you are on UC.

It is not just the cost of ingredients. If you are poor you may not be able to afford to have the stove on for a couple of hours to take advantage of those "cheap cuts". Power is expensive these days and the poor pay a lot more if they are on pre-payment metres.

Many people these days are also living in temporary accommodation with a family of 4 living in a single room with a microwave and kettle - no scope or ability to have store cupboard ingredients. Probably no fridge either.

Like it or not - food that is not nutritious is often a lot cheaper if you are hard up. Places like Iceland and Lidl make ready meals for about a £1 that microwave in a few minutes - you couldn't make a stew portion for that.

Luckygirl Thu 10-Jan-19 17:47:34

Unfortunately the principle of encouraging people into work - who could argue with that? - has morphed into the imposition of punishing schedules of job searching (most of which is impossible to achieve) and of unrealistic medical parameters for being recognised as too sick to work. And the poor get penalised from every side.

I do not judge those who do not have the wherewithall (in so many ways - financial, motivational, educational etc.) to create wonderful nourishing dishes from almost nothing at all - I have never walked in their shoes.

Fennel Thu 10-Jan-19 18:12:21

Cold wrote:
"Like it or not - food that is not nutritious is often a lot cheaper if you are hard up. Places like Iceland and Lidl make ready meals for about a £1 that microwave in a few minutes - you couldn't make a stew portion for that."
I've noticed that too.
I've mentioned before a series that Jamie Oliver started, helping non-cooks to start with basic meals. He had to give up - most didn't have a decent cooker, never mind the posts and pans needed.

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 18:14:48

People who are in bed and breakfast accommodation have to go out after breakfast and not come back until a particular time.
Others share kitchens between lots of tenants, too.

EllanVannin Thu 10-Jan-19 18:14:58

Just reading about a " Minister for Hunger " about to be appointed. There'd been a demand by MP's apparently.

I wonder how much their pay will be ?

EllanVannin Thu 10-Jan-19 18:15:49

What next ? A minister for silly walks ?

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 18:16:23

Well, they certainly won't be missing out on their food, or anything else.

Grandmashe43 Thu 10-Jan-19 18:28:26

Dear God, have things deteriorated so much that a Minister for Hunger is required, I, hang my head in shame, that I a Grandmother havebeen so negligent letting the Government

Carry on with this appalling austerity programme in one of the richest country in the world.
My MP will be getting a blasting.

notentirelyallhere Thu 10-Jan-19 18:30:18

I wouldn't judge anyone although I have walked in their shoes. We were seriously poor, my mother had little education, did cleaning jobs in school terms and, I later discovered, had pawned and sold her engagement and wedding rings which were the only valuables she owned, poor thing. She was fortunate in that in those days, widows received a pension for life and had support from her sisters. I got a grant for my school uniform and had to queue at a second window in the dining room at school with those few who also got free school dinners. I am right up there with the situation and sentiments expressed in I, Daniel Blake!

What is different now it seems though is the preponderance of cheap food made from cheap additives and the housing shortage. It is appalling that the housing situation has returned to one where landlords can do what they like. One of my enduring memories is of my mother receiving a letter putting up our rent with the rider 'if you won't pay the extra, then consider this letter your notice to leave in two weeks'. One of the Labour governments introduced rent control but the Tories removed this, I can't remember the dates now.

Aldi do actually do packs of cooked rice and packs of pulses, eg. curried chick peas for £1 a time. Also cheaper tinned food such as tomatoes and so on. Without judging anyone, poor diet produces children who don't grow properly, who often have poor behaviour and who don't do as well at school. Later on, poor diet leads to chronic health problems. I think shrugging and saying oh well, it's up to them what they eat is avoiding looking at what choices are made available to them through the political system we have. In France, children eat incredibly well and are fed good food at school and encouraged to appreciate food and to know how to cook it. We could do that too if we supported different political choices that provided proper support for those who need it. That goes for giving grants for cooking equipment too!

EllanVannin Thu 10-Jan-19 18:32:03

It's shameful, Grandmashe43. Shouldn't the third world countries be helping us out now ?

Grandmashe43 Thu 10-Jan-19 18:37:56

No Ellan third world countries ha e enough too contend with, it is not necessary for anyone to be hungry in the UK,
It’s plain greed and an uncaring government to blame.

Lily65 Thu 10-Jan-19 18:47:53

We can't go backwards.

EllanVannin Thu 10-Jan-19 18:53:01

I was likening this country to a third world one.
It is greed and it's spread like a disease.
Another area of complaint as far as I'm concerned is heating costs. Why can't bills be capped ? These companies got away with murder, literally, when over 50,000 people died last year when the " beast from the east " hit us.
The government can intervene if they wanted. They're not doing enough to ensure the health and welfare of its citizens.

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 18:54:55

Its hardly surprising that mental health issues are so prevalent.
Its depressing just thinking about it.

EllanVannin Thu 10-Jan-19 18:57:03

379 pensioners died last year--------every day ! We're talking about those " younger " ones 60 and over included.

EllanVannin Thu 10-Jan-19 19:09:05

I'm glad my mum's not around to see headings like this as she'd have been permanently in floods of tears. She had a " thing " about always having plenty in------just in case.
Forever baking for everyone and meals that Desperate Dan would have been proud of.
How she did it in the '50's I don't know. It used to upset her greatly to see someone, especially a child, who was poor. It worried her then she'd get an upset stomach.

Grandmashe43 Thu 10-Jan-19 19:17:00

Sorry Ellan, I agree, Greed has taken over, I thought the Thatcher years were as bad as our generation would see, how naive was I.

Jalima1108 Thu 10-Jan-19 20:18:00

It's easy to talk about managing to make meals from scratch from practically nothing but poverty can also be depressing and people lose the wherewithal to make things happen, to source cheap nutritious food and cook it. Living on cheap food could also lead to a loss of energy - the type of food provided by food banks is not fresh food; it may be good, but fresh fruit, vegetables are not allowed to be donated.

Izabella Thu 10-Jan-19 20:34:18

Low income families pay more than that for their fuel if they have prepaid metered supplies Nonnie. I accept people can do what they like with benefit money but I was very frustrated working with families putting cigarettes and alcohol before putting a meal on the table. Having said that many had no table or cooker either.

I can remember my own mother telling me how they went hungry as children and how the uncles would go poaching to get trout or a rabbit. Her family even 'shared' funeral clothes they had so little. I don't pretend to have any answers. I have survived on next to nothing in the past, but have always had utensils, a cooker, access to home grown vegetables that I grew myself and a good sound knowledge of cookery.

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 20:36:27

Don't forget having to actively prove that you've been jobseeking for 35 hours a week into the equation.

MissAdventure Thu 10-Jan-19 20:39:54

And of course up to 2 hours at a time on the phone, waiting to be put through to the dwp, sometimes three times a week, depending on how much wrong info they give you..

Jalima1108 Thu 10-Jan-19 20:45:57

Slow cookers are an economical way to cook but first you have to buy one.