Imagine having to make a choice between buying new shoes for your child so that they can go to school or buying food so that you can feed your family for the week.
Benefit cuts, sanctions, stagnating wages, increasing food costs and bills and zero hour contracts mean that more and more people are being faced with impossible choices. Food banks have appeared all over the country to support those in need: in 2016 there were over 1 million visits to food banks throughout the UK. These food banks do make a difference, they mean that families can be fed. Although going to a food bank is free, it does come at a cost.
Our Food Club, unlike foodbanks, is stocked with fresh, healthy food every week and it allows people to choose the food that they take home, like a proper shop.
Often the food parcels are items with a long shelf-life, which often means tins and unhealthy processed food, and recipients don’t always get to choose the contents. Using a foodbank can also have a negative impact on a person’s dignity, identity and aspirations. The people we meet are often ashamed and embarrassed to have to ask for a handout.
At Mustard Tree we wanted to provide much needed food for people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it, while still offering a service that promotes choice, dignity and healthy eating.
Our Food Club, unlike foodbanks, is stocked with fresh, healthy food every week and it allows people to choose the food that they take home, just like a proper shop. For just £2 people can choose a basket of items worth £15. As well as providing fresh, healthy food we also distribute recipe cards and offer cookery demonstrations to help people learn how to make healthy meals on a budget.
The Food Club has dramatically reduced the number of food parcels we hand out, despite the rising food poverty in our city . In 2016 we handed out just 1119 parcels, compared to over 2450 in 2015. In fact 80% of those who now come to us for food are using our Food Club, with over 5400 visits from more than 1000 people. Your support means that we can respond to need on the ground, and make a real difference.