How can we help feed those in need?
Andrew Frere-Smith reminds us of the importance of meals, and offers us some food for thought as the rising cost of living impacts our communities.
I cannot remember the last time I was truly hungry. When I’ve said, “I’m starving,” it’s simply because my dinner’s been a little later than normal! I have no idea what it’s really like; and yet there are people in King’s Lynn going hungry regularly in order to make sure there is enough in the cupboard to feed their children.
We all need food, and not simply to survive. Food brings us together. It is a reason for gathering around the table. It can strengthen homes and build families. It is often at the centre of celebrations, milestones, and special events. It can help fortify friendships and build new ones.
Jesus recognised the power of sharing food together. Some of his most intimate encounters happened over a meal. Zacchaeus was transformed at the dinner table. As the meal was prepared, Mary and Martha were taught about life’s top priorities. Jesus shared the Last Supper with his friends, making it the most remembered meal in the world, and he referred to himself as the Bread of Life.
Food is essential, and when people are deprived of it, or reduced to buying the cheapest and poorest quality that is available, they suffer, not just physically but socially and psychologically. It is hard not to get depressed when you can’t feed your children.
The latest figures from the Christian foodbank charity the Trussell Trust show that the network provided almost 1.3 million emergency food parcels to people experiencing hunger between April to September – a record number for this six-month period – with almost half a million of these going to children. This is a 33% increase from the same period in 2021/22, and a 52% increase from the same period in the pre-pandemic year of 2019/20.?
Recent Trussell Trust research revealed that, during August 2022, more than two million people skipped meals across the previous three months to keep up with essential costs. In addition, in the last month, 38% of people said they’d gone a whole day with no food at all, or just one meal, because they couldn’t afford to buy enough food.
The charity has warned that food banks are at ‘breaking point’, both physically and mentally, and are set to face the hardest winter yet as they expect to provide more than 7,000 emergency food parcels a day on average in the next six months.
King’s Lynn Foodbank has noticed people returning, after several years, because they can no longer afford food. Over the last 6 weeks, they have fed 84% more people than the same period in 2021, which equates to well over 500 people each month.
The good news is that, despite the rising cost of living, people remain incredibly generous. Donations in King’s Lynn have increased by 7% this year, and the harvest donations totalled an amazing 3 tonnes, enough to feed 300 people with a 3-day food parcel.
Please keep supporting the foodbank, or any other food project known to you because, as we are often reminded by one national supermarket, ‘every little helps.’
The image above is courtesy of pixabay.com
Andrew Frere-Smith is Development Worker for Imagine Norfolk Together, based in Kings Lynn.
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