This blog is a polemic and rightly so. There needs to be a counter-fact-based-narrative to the misleading stories put out by Trussell and FareShare. Stories often supported by some academics, food aid alliances, the press, food think-tanks – the list is growing. Stories that are kidding the public that hunger in this country is being dealt with – it’s not
Much of the work we do, is to prove the difference good food makes to someone’s life if they are hungry. And, a further tranche of time is spent campaigning to change the current food aid system. A system that keeps the majority of hungry people hungry but claims otherwise. It is system that has become an industry and as an industry, it is much more concerned about its own growth than feeding people well.
It is a very resilient person that can cope enough to get themselves out of a crisis, if they are hungry. Hunger saps a persons’ energy, confidence and motivation. Moreover, hunger prevents a person from thinking beyond where the next meal will come from. And in the UK today, we have a Government and a food aid system that expect hungry vulnerable people to cope and thrive on a diet of ultra-processed, random food or simply, go without.
A substantial amount of what is offered as food aid is controlled by the overtone of religion. Sometimes, within the mix of church/charity and of course the work of Trussell Trust where prayer is often present before any food is dispensed. True faith-based approaches should always carry the narrative of fairness, care and most definitely love. Love is, of course, a provocative word and is open to wide interpretation by those who are charged with providing any kind of support service. Yet, should this ever be the case? Surely love within a crisis-service context means providing the best service possible – one that loves everyone, as we all would want to be loved.
A theologian said “we are not called by god to do extraordinary things, but to do ordinary things with extraordinary love” – And it is extraordinary love that is missing from food-aid. No doubt most food-aiders care, and no doubt the same people want to offer support, but if the backdrop is a food service so poor people can suffer serious health consequences when eating too much of it – extraordinary love is absent.
People in food poverty require options. The same options are available to everyone else who find themselves on better terms. When food aid is required, it is incumbent on those who provide services of support, to make sure the food services pass the ‘extraordinary’ test. Unfortunately, 10 years into the current food aid model, the food service is far from standing up to that test. In fact, the food is awful and the message it conveys to those who are hungry is not at all about fairness or care. So, let’s be clear, there is no reason whatsoever hungry people should have to eat ultra-processed donated/cast off/awful/crap food, and there is certainly no reason why any hungry person should receive crap food, except of course, in the minds of those who design of the food aid sector = FACT.
Anyone involved in food aid who feeds hungry people the worst food a modern society can produce is in contempt of their duties. Food poverty is about the lack of food and nothing else. The Trussell Trust and others such as IFAN, like to claim food poverty is not about food, but about income. Of course, lack of income is the driver, but one leads to the other and when the other is reached, the only thing that matters is the supply of good food.
Good food options are available for every hungry person, but Trussell Trust, FareShare, IFAN, Church Action against Poverty, to name a few, are all trying to kid a public that crap food is the best route to tackling hunger, whilst they all operate and remain noisy about benefits. Hunger has given most of them a fundraising potential beyond their wildest dreams, and some a national platform. They all operate behind the distribution of crap food – food so crap that no one working for these organisations would eat it themselves. We have charities, creating and protecting a model that pushes out foodstuff that is either somebody else’s leftovers and or nothing more than ultra-processed killer foods. And remember many in this group claim this food is nutritious.
It is a mainly white, middle class body of people, pushing their distorted charity/ideological make up onto working class people who require the opposite. It’s also a body of people associated with food think-tanks who are willing to reinforce the worst food habits onto the most vulnerable, in order to sit around tables to inform their next ‘think-pieces’ – its offensive! This group is dangerous, because sitting in London (as most do) they are controlling the political/poverty narrative and without doubt keeping people hungry.
These and others make up the Food-Poverty-Porn-Stars – read on…
If we had a £ for every time we were asked to not challenge or comment about food aid because ‘a lot of good people are working hard to help others’, we would have enough to stop food poverty in its tracks. Therefore, let’s qualify our position. We are not criticising anyone for their hard work or energy, these endeavours have stopped many from falling through the poverty cracks. We are questioning whether all this hard-food-aid-work is the right work to support people who are hungry? And, we are most certainly questioning the complicity of the many who have adopted themselves into the cause of food aid, in order to further their own interests. A place where, for example, academics want to be and where food think-tanks think they have the best chance to inform policy – always looking ahead, never dealing with today.
Academics/think-tanks predict tomorrow based on yesterday and policy is ALWAYS about jam tomorrow and often their judgement is swayed by who helps them with their information – think the various Trussell/FareShare academic research projects.
HUNGER IS ALL ABOUT TODAY – this blog is about HUNGER TODAY and the impact of the poverty-porn-stars and how they keep hungry people – HUNGRY!
These porn-stars are:
Academics: Who have written papers, PHD’s or worse still, books about food banks and food aid but have stayed silent on the quality of the food.
Food-think-tanks or networks: The liberal-jam tomorrow policy wonks, sitting around the various food aid alliances, staying publicly silent on the crap food hungry people have to eat, whilst always commenting on the good food systems they hope to create for themselves and the rest of us who have money to spend.
Every church entity that supports the distribution of ultra-processed food as the only community food option.
The media: Who write and report regularly on the subject, but say nothing about the quality of the food, in fear of upsetting their news source – Trussell/FareShare.
And of course…Trussell Trust and FareShare: Charities, who for example, take £20m from ASDA and use it to strengthen their management teams, marketing and logistics and then claim they want to ‘put themselves out of business’ = SURE!
To use the words of someone else – they have all served to ‘normalise the abnormal’ and the abnormal is to the detriment of hungry people and society as a whole.
NORMALISING THE ABNORMAL:
Let’s look at the abnormal and how the food aid industry turns it into the normal they want the public to believe.
The 3 images below are:
A claim, via letter, made by a Trussell Food Bank in a Tesco store.
A claim made by the same Tesco store and;
The food bank basket that was situated right under the above claims.
Let’s unpick this nonsense, which sets out to falsely convince a public that hunger is being handled.
Firstly, food banks do not give out meals, they dole out random products – see the basket and together let’s try and create a family meal or two.
Processed hotdogs and spaghetti – what could be better?
Or, tinned spaghetti on top of boiled spaghetti – which is a recommended Trussell Food bank meal by the way (click here). Or trying for one more;
Just plain old tinned chicken soup with maybe crisps afterwards…Mmmm, lovely, and every meal so nutritious (more of this later).
Now let’s do the maths…according to the letter:
= 64,000 meals from 22,613kg of goods including toiletries. So .35kg of random stuff including toiletries, creates a meal eh – By whose measurement? = Trussell and FareShare and constantly supported by the food aid alliances.
Remember over 50% of everything given out by Trussell and FareShare is never eaten or returns to landfill. This meal claim is nothing more than inflated nonsense, set up to kid the public and funders alike that food aid is doing something substantial – it’s not, it’s a lie. But point this out to the food aid sector and they rally behind indignant behaviour, aghast that anyone dare be critical of their well-meaning charity stuff.
These indignant food-aid-porn-stars do all they can to protect their lie and to deflect, roll out the now nothing more than trite line… ‘we should never need food banks in a society like ours’ – Well here is the news…we do and this food aid scam is keeping people hungry, creating a food-underclass and conditioning the public that crap food is ok for those who have less than most of us.
NEED and US:
We estimate the hunger problem is more than 4x the suggested published figure – How do we know this?
Unlike most of the food-aid-porn-stars who franchise and intrude into peoples’ lives or prepare a piece of research for a PHD or maybe write a book that has put them in the middle of poverty for a year or so, we have been on the frontline of poverty for 13 years; talking food, teaching food, feeding food, creating a good food model that has been built from peoples’ struggle. We have academics on our Board, we work with dietitians, we have very skilful chefs on staff, and we have staff who themselves have been hungry and spent years unemployed – a fact that matters. We don’t just talk hunger, we have lived hunger and we are every-single-day, feeding hunger.
CAMPAIGNING or PROTEST:
A campaign alerts and sometimes promotes. A protest takes direct action. We mix both, but now mainly focus on protest. Our reasons are;
Food aid provided by the third and private sectors is now as responsible as the Government, for the entrenched position of hunger.
Food poverty is already institutionalised, though food aid groups like to claim otherwise.
The food aid narrative is dominated by white, middle class bodies that reside in the South of England and have no representation from the areas we serve.
Many Faith groups acknowledge that food banks are not the answer, yet they continue to provide food banks as the only option. And;
They all countenance feeding people crap food in the name of charity.
This is the furtive territory of the food-poverty-porn-stars – so let’s get onto to them.
CHARITY and the PORN-STARS:
Take more than a cursory glance at the food aid industry and it’s all Trussell Trust this, FareShare that, community group this, church groups that – it’s charity and nothing more. It has its short-term place but medium term and beyond, it’s unstable and full of free labour. Free labour that has allowed Trussell and FareShare to grow – not for them, the employment of local people who are struggling. Instead they favour free local volunteering schemes and their employment is saved for well-paid central management structures.
All this charity and no evidence anywhere that it makes any long-term difference. In fact, medium/long term charity does nothing more than create dependency – local, regional and national dependency.
It’s the place where the porn-stars set up residency, playing charity, promoting charity, propagating charity.
Charity is a problem because it is a right-wing construct designed to keep social problems calmer. It has its roots and tentacles in the thought process of there being a deserving poor. It’s also being re-used by those in the various food-aid alliances as the BIG fundraiser/recruiter. 10 years ago, the church was struggling for their community message and there was no such mention of the BIG charities, such as Trussell or FareShare. Now, the church has a message and Trussell and FareShare have almost become household names by protecting their crap-food hunger model and often lying about the quality of the same food.
Let’s not forget 80% of hungry people turn their back on food banks, even though the food is free – a fact that would be seen as failure in any other service environment, but in the charitable food aid world it is protected, even promoted as success. Why? Well it’s simple…academics require their research base and as already noted, too many charities are wedded to the fundraising that hunger now brings them – it has become too big a gravy train to derail.
PORN-STARS as ENFORCERS:
Recently, we learnt a young boy lost his sight and hearing because of his diet of pringles, sausages, white bread etc = All ultra-processed food and all foods regularly found in food banks. However, once inside food banks, the same food is transformed, and it becomes so good the porn-star-enforcers tell hungry people the same food is ‘nutritionally balanced’
Every UK public health body and most of the media point us all (who have choices) away from contact with ultra-processed food and all those tinned meat/high sugar/crap noodle/pringle/crisp products known to kill us over time. A stance you would hope the food aid sector would re-enforce as they set themselves up to ‘feed’ the most vulnerable amongst us. Unfortunately, as the porn-star re-ENFORCERS they see things differently.
They choose to twist the public health message to suit and render food that can make a person go blind, nutritious. Here is an excerpt from the current Trussell Trust website… “people can receive a food bank parcel of three days ‘nutritionally balanced’, non-perishable food from their local food bank.”
Or compare this, taken from a Harvard study… “Ultra-processed foods often have fewer nutrients than unprocessed foods, and they contain higher amounts of sugar, salt, saturated fat, and food additives, all of which are associated with an increased risk for chronic diseases.”
Here we have – Trussell saying their food is nutritious and instruct their food banks to tell vulnerable people the same. Whilst a world-renowned research body says exactly the opposite. As you ponder your truth about who is right here, take another look at the Tesco food bank collection image we included earlier – all ultra-processed crap food. And if you think it is nutritious – post your arguments against what we are claiming here. If, however, you, like us, think the food is nothing more than crap, do some or all of the following.
Stop donating ultra-processed food to food banks – it is making the problem worse.
Get closer to the issues and locally think about improving your local food bank approach.
Write to your MP about the good food change that needs to happen.
Work with bodies like us to create larger scale change – otherwise;
The food-poverty-porn-star-enforcers, brazen in their deceit of a key public health messages, will continue uninterrupted and most hungry people will remain hungry.
INDIGNANT PORN-STARS actors:
Everything we do or write about we can qualify – we get our facts right. If we comment, we comment using well researched facts and the basis of our own practice. However, when our comments venture close to a porn-star or two, they become the most indignant bunch, sat high on some sort of moral cloud they have no right to sit on, because frankly, the facts are never on their side.
We never discuss anything outside of hunger and good food. We are not generalists like so many of the porn-stars and of course we are a professional food organisation. We have an expertise in food standards and food production. Yet the indignant bunch, most of whom have no food expertise whatsoever, believe they know better, based on what exactly? Nothing but their indignance. And all the time people are starving.
These affronted porn-star-actors often present themselves as radical campaigners, often socialist in their politic. Yet their provision of crap food is a further austerity measure pushed out onto vulnerable people. This means, similar to charity, it is right-wing in construct. Not that this matters, to any of the faux lefties. As porn-star-actors they love their walk-on actor parts, sitting around discussing/writing about the poverty they have never experienced, or dreaming up condescending terms like experts by experience. For them, their motives are sound, because they mean well and should be thanked for their ‘meaning’ – it is emotive/disingenuous claptrap. If the work is good, then fine get on with it. But if the work knowingly keeps people hungry by feeding people crap food, it is right-wing and has no place in any service delivering social justice, and neither does anyone who favours supporting it.
PORN-STARS in ALLIANCE:
Let’s focus on the End Hunger Alliance and to do so, take look at the membership in the image below.
It is a body that is never publicly critical of the crap food Trussell Trust pushes out or Fareshare’s food distribution. This Alliance body also sanctions the push out of the ‘Pantry’ model. A model no more than food bank food being sold to people under the pretence that they are part of some sort of community membership – when it is nothing more than a 2nd class, crap-food scam allowing Fareshare to sell on the random-crap-food it has be given for free.
Now take a look at the strapline that End Hunger operates behind…Everybody should have access to good food etc – the good food, and the good food process they are talking up as ‘good’ is captured in the earlier images. What is striking, is that every organisation named below have clearly changed their opinions on what constitutes good food and in doing so – creating a two-tier food system, how convenient!
Food bank food and the stuff Fareshare distributes is not good food, far from it. It is food almost entirely made up of random, ultra-processed cast offs. Often end of date, and full of bread and pastries. Yet all of those listed below define this as good food. And they only do so, because they are happy to facilitate this two-tier food system. One we all benefit from and the other for a food-underclass underpinned by their distorted ‘good’ food alternative. It is intended to kid hungry people that crap food is good for them. It is a method to keep End Hunger in the game which for them, seemingly matters more than tackling hunger. Remember, they all need to drink the milk from the cow that is Fareshare – it is THE main supplier of the crap food they all need in order for there to be a story to tell. Never would this group bite off the hand that literally feeds them.
What is most concerning is bodies such as Sustain, Food Ethics Council and the Food Foundation have signed up to this lie – it is a travesty, but they know that. Their hypocrisy is stark, and all the time people are starving. To repeat, 80% of everyone hungry steers clear of this charity scam because the food is so poor and the stigma too great. Yet this porn-star alliance carries on disregarding hungry people by disregarding their health, disregarding their dignity and perpetuating the lie that they are distributing nutritionally-balanced food.
The term apostate comes to mind.
PORN-STARS and their response to FOOD-AID-STANDARDS:
They’re a funny crowd these porn-stars. There to support every call their porn-star mates make or if they can, align themselves something that catches a PR gaze. However, if something is suggested, from outside of their porn-star clique the indignant silence begins.
A few months ago, we put a call out for the creation of food standards for food aid. You know the type of food standards that protect us all, who already have food choice, but do nothing for those who are hungry. We thought this was a no brainer. A step towards hungry people being fed well. A step towards the protection of the health of those most vulnerable and the opportunity for the food aid sector to self-regulate their food offer. Regulations no more difficult than this:
Food-aid should cater for cultural differences and dietary requirements
Food-aid should remove the use of tinned meats
Food-aid should remove the use of any end-of-date products
Food-aid should supply fresh fruit and vegetables
Food-aid parcels should always be able to provide nutritious family meals, and help to facilitate this.
Refrigeration should always be available and;
Every food aid outlet should be subject to food hygiene registration and checks, just like every other food entity.
Then came the response = almost total silence, except for one tweet, weeks later, from Sustain, saying ‘this looks interesting’. So, let’s make a comparison…just a few weeks ago, Prue Leith goes live with her hospital food campaign and who are right there in total support? Sustain of course. They tweet immediately and in one day, produce 10 tweets/retweets in support. Sustain the campaigner for good food, whose CEO is prominent in the End Hunger Alliance, allows her organisation to get right behind the PR Prue Leith may bring, but when it comes to representing and improving the lot of hungry people, nothing more than..1 tweet saying ‘this looks interesting’. It is double standards and it is calculated.
PORN-STARS, BREXIT and the FUTURE:
Brexit will be the next big fundraiser for Trussell and Fareshare and all of their Alliance buddies. Already the news is creeping out about the loss of supply to foodstuffs and the likely impact on those in poverty. The deals will be done and here is a prediction, it will be even more crap food pushed down the necks of the hungry. All sanctioned by the porn-stars in the name of crisis and the story they want to tell – when a different story could have been in place.
5 years ago, we started to campaign for the food aid industry to change course and start to feed people well – introducing viable ideas and asking the food aid sector to change their working practices – simple changes too. Had it done so, food aid would be more robust and resilient to change and be in a position to push back on Brexit. But of course, the porn-stars have held firm in their defence of the crap food system and what will transpire, is much more of the same or worse still, no food at all. And as always, they will point the finger at Government and never ever consider they have any responsibility.
Brexit is at the door of the Tories, but if hunger increases because of it – the food-poverty-porn-stars will have played a major part.
One last Brexit thought: There could be one major benefit of a no-deal-type-Brexit…organisations like FareShare will likely struggle with supply and with it, the donations into the Trussell model. Now that would be interesting, because then, we may see the food-aid-alliance-porn-stars change their tact and be forced to think about a new food model. If it happens, we bet the same porn-star-Alliance who have created the current food-aid mess, will want to be trusted with the design of what comes next – which is akin to asking the Tories to redesign the benefits system.
In the recent past, we have spoken at 2 conferences. One full of food policy academics, the second, mostly public health workers, some of whom were in very senior positions. We presented much of what is written here and what stood out – not one dissenting voice and plenty of support. Hundreds of people in attendance, not one dissenting voice. So how come nothing changes? How come public health stays silent about crap food and how come only a handful of academics ever criticise Trussell Trust and FareShare. Maybe this is the answer. In one of the conferences, a woman who was managing a food aid project in London said privately, ‘we all agree with you, but your message is ‘cheeky’ and we don’t want to upset Trussell Trust because what else can we do”? What was being said was – we agree with the truth, but the truth when it is spoken, is cheeky and we will side with the lie, because the lie keeps us in the food aid gang.
For some reading this, our approach may seem confrontational or could possible offend. As we have said before, if you are offended ask yourself why? After all, all we want is to feed hungry people good food when it is possible to do so. And consider this. In dealing with many of the indignant-apostate-porn-stars highlighted above, we have throughout reached out, provided solutions to the hunger issues millions face. We are not in it for the research, the charity or the sanctimonious lines about ‘putting ourselves out of business.’ We are in it to feed people well at the point they need food = TODAY. We are good food practitioners, not think-pieces. We sit on the frontline of hunger and see the damage no/or crap food does to people and then how different people become when they are fed well/treated with respect. Yet, the disdain shown by those porn-stars who do nothing but research the same old stuff or produce more charity-how-to guides, is incredible. This group never puts a viable/sustainable idea on the table, other than to blame the Government or call for more charity. This is why they are, and will remain…