Every time I go to the supermarket (once or twice a week depending on when and what I am cooking) I always make a list – saves time and money. Ironically there is always a couple of items that I buy that are not on the list, and they are the items I set aside to go to the foodbank
I never know what it will be partly because it is driven by items I would I buy for myself which are on special offer. And partly by wanting to add a little spontaneity to the contents of the foodbank. but I have still have a few guidelines as to what to include. There are of course the foodbanks own guide, it varies but typically
- Pasta sauce
- Tinned meat
- Tinned vegetables
- Tinned fruit
I have a few extra “rules” that I apply on my own behalf. And this harks back to my headline – There but for the grace of God, go I*
So I say to myself:
- I buy at the same level of quality that I buy for myself. I rarely buy the “value” or cheapest own brand variants which typically include more water, sugar or cheap ingredients. If I don’t like them why should others have to suffer them?
- I donate packages that can easily be broken down for smaller family units. Bulk buying a giant tin of baked beans is economical, but it cannot easily be broken down to meet the needs of smaller family units. As a single person I am acutely aware that hunger is not confined to large family units.
- Mix and match, I tend to do savoury one week and sweet the next. It is difficult to know the actual stock the foodbank has today, and what it is running low on. So this is a modest way of balancing my contribution.
- I include a few things that add flavours to the staples. Looking at what else goes into the collection basket I am struck at how boring pasta and tomato sauce must get week after week. So even simple flavours will make a difference – beef/chicken stock cubes, tinned fish, curry powder, brown sauce.
- I include basic toiletries and sanitary products in my contribution as more and more foodbanks are now also tackling period poverty.
I am aware how lucky I am to be able to tour the supermarket, mostly buy what I fancy and rarely tot-up the contents of my trolley to see if I have enough money. It was not always like that, there were times when I had to scrutinise every penny. As I put my contribution into the basket I always remember – it may be me one day
*There but for the grace of God, go I – is attributed to John Bradford, a devout English Protestant Reformer, burned at the stake for his faith in 1555 by Queen Mary, after she had restored Catholicism as the official church in England.