Corona Virus: Feeding good people well, unless you are a distorter of the truth

About Can Cook:

We reached our 13th birthday last month. 13 years ago, we set out to put good food into every home we could, with a particular focus on those in poverty.

We are a food producer and have always campaigned.

13 years on, as a food producer we have:

  • Created our own range of meals to sell
  • Created a sustainable business model that caters for schools, nurseries, and care homes

As campaigners, we have:

  • Worked with every part of the community to train people to cook; in homes, nurseries, schools, community centres, care homes and prisons – to name a few.
  • Collectively taught over 15,000 people to cook.
  • Opened pop-up shops and street food trucks.
  • Written and published various cookbooks.
  • Produced cookery, food and food poverty research.
  • Hosted numerous food poverty conferences.
  • Donated over 180,000 free fresh meals to hungry families

 

Regarding Covid-19… In the next 12-week period – We will deliver 50,000 fresh meals to vulnerable adults/children. The service will offer every person a choice of meals.

We are on the frontline every day and, we have a solution to food poverty.

All the work we do is underpinned by the following quotes:

  1. ‘The people who need to be fed the best are fed the worst’ (David Chang, Chef, entrepreneur).
  2. “I have never not eaten before and it was terrible. After the first day you think it isn’t so bad, and then you start to feel sick, like empty inside sick. And then it gets worse and worse, and you just feel hollow inside – ‘We discuss food banks at school gates like its normal’ (BBC March 2020)

When the two above quotes become irrelevant, we will stop campaigning. Until then, our campaigning will focus on feeding people good food and will target any organisation or ‘person’ who knowingly protects the supply of terrible food to vulnerable people.

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Blog – Corona Virus: Feeding good people well, unless you are a distorter of the truth

When hungry and when it’s necessary to fend off life-threatening viruses, people require a healthy diet; a diet able to satisfy their hunger, a diet that will support their immune system. Leading food policy professors noted recently in their following advice to Government – it’s important to ensure that healthy food can and will be delivered to all those who self-isolate or are quarantined. Common sense you would think, but absent from the food aid sector.

In the midst of a public health crisis; a crisis which will threaten the lives of many thousands of good people; a group most threatened will be those who are hungry and as a consequence have very little resilience to sudden illness. The size of this group will grow, as the crisis grows. The response you would expect would therefore be the supply of good food to help people cope. In this space, the Government have given a commitment to feed people during this time – more of this later.

Imagine for a moment you are the person who is describing their hunger at the start of this blog. Then imagine you are ill and told to self-isolate, but of course you can’t because you need food for you and your family. Then by breaking the rules, you show up at a food bank. At the food banks, you are offered a random selection of terrible food, food that does not hang together as meals. A tin of mushy peas here, a packet of instant noodles/jar of sauce there… and you are told it is nutritiously balanced.

Try and imagine how you would feel. You are hungry, you have the virus and you are having to beg for terrible food to feed you and you are being lied to about the health benefits of the food given. This will happen to tens of thousands of good people and as unemployment climbs, hundreds of thousands more good people will fall into the scope of food aid. And where is the plan for a good-food-offer? Nowhere to be seen. In any other industry this would be seen as an abject failure and those responsible would be out. Not in food aid, those who got us here are still here and those who got us here with their right-wing charity modelling are intending to stay – they are nothing more than social-populists.

We are, in part, a frontline food-aid organisation. The supply of good fresh meals defines our approach. When we deliver to hungry people, they receive nutritious meals they would pick for themselves, if they had the money to purchase. We also make sure dietary needs are catered for. We offer the service others in food aid claim cannot be offered. We offer a service, only ever designed, with the welfare of the hungry in mind.

Locally, it’s a service ready to feed the thousands of people the Government want quarantined and working with the local authorities, we will feed them. Adapting the offer to suit local conditions, we will always start from the nutritional needs of those who find themselves isolated.

So how come we can do this and most everywhere else is crying out for more food bank food – the same food, 8 out of 10 hungry people don’t want. Is it because the food aid hierarchy has no plan for the hungry (other than asking the Government to change policy)? Of course, it is.

Is it also because the same hierarchy now have too much invested in changing nothing? Of course, it is.

This week, we saw the evidence of the Government free supply of food and a supermarket’s attempt to create their own food bank (see below) Intended for people who are vulnerable/quarantined. The Government approach is a typical food bank approach, random processed/unhealthy items; not suitable for meals. The supermarket contains fresh meat intended for meals, but no means to produce those meals. A clear influence of the food bank mentality to diet and cooking. And who has convinced the Government/supermarkets this is the food route to take – The food-aiders of course. Foodbank food delivered to people, who until very recently were paying for their own food. Now they are going to be told they are worth nothing more than a box of unhealthy goods or a slightly better box of well-meaning goods that will at best make 1 family meal and maybe cheese and ham on toast- you take the cookery test and try to produce a series of meals for you and yours from what you see below.

Well done to the food-aiders, you have done your work. You have convinced our Government and food retailers its normal to provide food bank food as a response to a national crisis. Whatever happened to public health and quality of life?

coronavirus

 

Top of the tree of those in the ears of Government/supermarkets, are FareShare and Trussell Trust. Already we have seen ASDA donating a further £5m to them both to assuage any criticism they may get from profiteering from the Covid-19 shopping rush. But will this £5m be spent on improving food for hungry people, of course not. History teaches us otherwise – their respective PR releases tell us this. These organisations are wedded to their terrible-food model, with more of the same to be pushed out. They will spend it on distorting their food facts, paying for expensive management teams and using volunteers to prop up the output of those expensive managers.

We have been told, the food aid hierarchy contains some very clever people – people who have been running organisations for a long time and are good at it. After all, look at the growth of FareShare and Trussell as examples. Really? Is it so hard to grow an organisation, if you are given £12.5m each (by Asda) to do so?  Is it so hard to grow an organisation, if, with all this money, their stock staff base is volunteers? Is it so hard to grow an organisation, if there is a constant grant tap turned on in their favour? And is it so hard to grow an organisation, if there is no pressure to change the model of delivery, even if most don’t want what model sells? What a privileged position these clever leaders are in.

The real skill would be for them to say, ‘we have spent over 10-years getting to where we are now and we know most don’t want what we have. Therefore, let’s create a plan for change. Let’s create a plan that starts with the hungry in mind. Let’s create a real food poverty plan that starts from the position of good food.

Of course, this will not happen and others who continue to sleep-walk with their involvement – others like:

Sustain

Food Ethics Council

Church Action Against Poverty

The Food Foundation and;

IFAN

Will continue to support FareShare and Trussell as the key distorters of good food facts and they will do so, just at the time hungry people require the exact opposite. It is a distortion planned and rehearsed. A distortion crafted to keep the food aid message legitimate in the minds of a largely naive, mis-informed public, politicians and the funders they continuously court.

Our approach is always based on the truth and feeding people well. When those facts are distorted or lied about, and hungry people are fed terrible food, as campaigners/ pundits, we will continue to write and challenge.

Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman puts it simply; He says, pundits must be ‘honest about dishonesty’ and put right, the actions of ‘bad faith’. The food aid movement is dishonest about the food they dole out and dishonest about their connection to the same food – this is all done in bad faith.

To highlight a number of distortions – distortions that undermine the whole food aid movement and most importantly, keep most hungry people, hungry!

  1. Trussell Trust supported by IFAN and others, state hungry people are offered ‘nutritionally-balanced’ food parcels. It’s a distortion they promote to the public/ media, and push out across food banks to unsuspecting volunteers who use it as some sort of in-house protective mantra.
  2. FareShare claim a meal for a hungry person can be made for 25p and all of free goods they receive and ‘sell on’, somehow end up as meals. Toilet rolls become meals for example. For the record, we estimate FareShare generate 12,500 tonnes of food waste each year. But does anyone care but us?

We can’t work out which of the two are the biggest distorters of the truth, but what we do know is – when facts are distorted and no longer reflect the truth, they become a lie. By the same token, when the same distortion is knowingly re-told, the reseller is a liar. Yet, apply this truth to the lies told by the Food Aid sector and dare challenge them, the best defence the sector can offer is silence, as if it makes the lie go away – it doesn’t, it just embeds the lie still further.

We have written lots on the food quality/ food recycling lies told by the food aid sector and we will no doubt write lots more. Now though, the lies they tell are even more pejorative, because in the middle of the biggest national crisis we have seen since the 2nd World War, some hungry people will be forced to eat the lies and most hungry people will be forced to go without, because of the same lies. As a result, the food aid sector is complicit in creating a ‘food-underclass’ – they know this, because the self-same-clever-people mentioned earlier, are facilitating this.

Until the next time.