As the first day of the school holidays, today is a special day. It's a day of the promise of two weeks together, making and playing, visiting all our old haunts together and enjoying each other's company. Today started early with a visit to the doctor (an appointment I've been waiting for for over a month, and still I got the time wrong!), followed by a breakfast pastry and then a trip to Aldi. Just like every other person in Cardiff.
However, unlike the rest of the shoppers there we weren't stocking up on last minute cheese purchases or yet another bag of crisps, we were buying food for our town's food bank.
Donating was something that I've been intending to do for some time, however news that one of my school's families had been made homeless on Friday made me even more determined. The thought of children I've taught and a family I've known for eight years not having food on Christmas Day breaks my heart. I decided to talk about it with The Boy in the car before we went in and gently explained why we were shopping for other people. He was most aggrieved that a bank could take away someone's house from them and thought it wasn't kind; he completely has a point and maybe those in charge should discuss their practices with children before coldly making decisions based on money.
As soon as we got into the store, he reached for the cereal, then turned to the coffee and tea. We'd talked about how the food needed to be in tins or packets, and actually it's very difficult to shop keeping only that in mind. However £35.oo buys an awful lot of tins and packets of pasta and we had three large reusable shopping bags crammed full.
We've just come home from taking it to the church, and The Boy was fascinated with the process. The warden was keen to explain how the food was stored, and distributed in pre-sorted shopping bags dependent upon if they were single, couples or families. It is humbling to see the mostly empty shelves and the bags already made up for families, shocking to think of the amount of people that will be going without a basic diet this Christmas while we are enjoying the excesses of the season.
We spent £35.00 which is more than I intended to but to be honest it's not that big a dent in the budget at this time of year; one less unnecessary present, no Starbucks this week, and a few chunks of cheese less to end up going off because no-one really likes Wensleydale.
If you're thinking of donating to a food bank, these items are a good starting point:
- Rice and dried pasta
- Pasta sauces
- Baked beans
- Tinned spaghetti
- Tinned vegetables (including potatoes)
- Tinned fruit
- Coffee and tea bags
- Dried milk
- Gravy or stock cubes
- Jam or marmalade
- Apple/orange juice
- Toilet roll, nappies and sanitary towels.
Most of us in this country are only one step away from the breadline, it only takes a lost job to destroy lives. When you're buying last minute treats this week, can you spare a few tins to donate to your local food bank this Christmas?
The Trussell Trust are a nationwide network of food banks, however there are also many independent food banks running in churches and community centres. Our local one is an independent and I find it comforting to know that our donation is going to people I may know in the community.