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No money for food? Why the hungry rely on food banks

Food donation box

We’ve all cut back on the shopping but could you imagine only being able to afford one meal per day or relying on charitable donations to feed your family? This was the startling reality of a BBC documentary on food banks.

Did you watch the BBC food banks documentary – Britain’s Hidden Hungry – on Tuesday evening? The programme followed several people who have to choose between heating their homes and feeding their families. Well, thanks to the food bank, they don’t have to make that choice.

The documentary went behind the scenes to share the stories of families who go without food. One parent skipped meals so their children could eat, a mother hadn’t eaten for two days and walked miles to a food bank, and a full-time student survived on one meal a day.

Food banks feeding the hungry

There are currently 250 food banks in the UK. Last year, The Trussell Trust, the charity who runs food banks, fed 128,687 people nationwide – 100% more than the previous year. And the numbers are rising.

The rise in basic living

Until watching Britain’s Hidden Hungry I hadn’t truly grasped how close to home food poverty is for some families. We have all seen our pockets squeezed. The cost of the basics is rising – food, electricity, heating, fuel – all the things we need just to survive are becoming harder to afford. And many are taking desperate measures to cut back.

Many of you have told us that you cut back on food when money is tight. In our most recent Quarterly Consumer report, 43% of you told us that you’ve reduced spending on food in order to manage your household budget. And 75% of you told us the food prices are one of your biggest financial concerns.

But what happens in extreme circumstances when we have to choose between the basics? Would you find it easier to go to an anonymous food bank or ask friends/family to help you by providing you with food? Have you ever had to make significant changes to your food planning just to afford basic groceries?


Frankly – I am waiting for the riots to start – In my very slum school in a very slum part of London – free breakfasts are becoming normal – The families cannot afford £1000 a month for rent and eat – Similarly for the OAPs. It disgusts me.


It sounds as if Dickens would find just about as much material for his books nowadays as he did in his own time. I guess there is no need to elaborate on how sad, to say the least, our society is. In this very Which? Conversation we have Anna Soubry talking about fighting obesity and Rachel Blain talking about fighting quasi starvation, here in this country. Please, sir, I want some more… from all of us.

I can’t honestly say which I would find more humiliating, begging food from my family or from the food bank. I hope I never have to find out.


I’d certainly have no qualms about using a food bank if it came down to it, but I’d cancel my internet first. I guess if I was that desperate the extra pound a day wouldn’t do much to help, but if you go to the Co-op at just the right time it will buy you at least one ‘instant’ meal a day.


Interesting programme, the only one I felt sorry for was the 21 year old. All the others seem to have inflicted poverty on themselves. Just because you can make babies doesn’t mean you should. Why aren’t people putting something aside before having kids? Do people not know just how expensive kids can be.

In and out of low paid work all his life and yet he has 2 kids, I was in full time work for over 25 years and still on had one child. And that one child cost me over £150k getting her from 4 to 18. (not including presents, food, rent/mortgage and utility bills and these were additional). I h8 the CSA


The 21 yr old paints something of a
sob story…. not entirely credible


Re the food bank programme shown
on the beeb, it’s possible to subsist on ONE
meal a day as per memoirs of Professor
Northcote Parkinson, of Raffles’ chair in
history… was to say that he used to, as to
his undergraduate days at Cambridge.

100 gm of animal protein a day is quite
enough, we eat much too much and
of the wrong variety anyway.


‘ Let them eat cakes’ (Marie Antoinette)

Was it an enlarged Chocolate
Gateau that I saw handed out
for a birthday that never was.


There seems to be some doubt as to whether Marie Antoinette ever actually said “Let them eat cake”, but what is certain is that if she did say it, it wasn’t original.

It had already been attributed to two of Louis XV’s daughters, Madame Sophie and Madame Victoire, and before that to Marie-Thérèse, a Spanish princess who married Louis XIV in the 1660s. However the original saying appears to be “‘Why don’t they eat meat?”, uttered by the Chinese Emperor H*i of Jin when he was informed that the peasants had no rice to eat.

I love Wikipedia.