A WYRE Forest church leader is spending 40 days living on a “foodbank” budget and is blogging about her experience.
Rev Eva McIntyre, vicar of Stourport and Wilden, is living on £33.37 a week during Lent. Campaign group End Hunger Now says the average foodbank bag, containing three days of emergency food, contains £14.30 worth.
Ms McIntyre said she wanted to “show solidarity” with families who could not afford to put food on the table and hoped it would help her raise “some important questions”.
“I did my first shop on Saturday and bought some fruit and vegetables, which was under £8 and from the Co-op, one bag of groceries and quickly realised I only had £9 left for the rest of the week,” she said.
“It does some very interesting things. I am focussing very quickly on the immediate future, so suddenly what I eat from day to day becomes much more of a focus than before.”
She said it had made her think about which basic items, such as toilet roll, she was able to afford and said it was difficult to buy more expensive environmentally-friendly and Fairtrade items and products not tested on animals.
“There are some really big questions about how we have ended up with this in such a rich country,” she said. “You cannot just pop along to a foodbank and get a handout - you have to prove you are entitled to this. How degrading must that feel?
“I would think there are some basic questions about priorities that need to be raised. The fact it is OK to bring down the highest rate of tax for people earning huge amounts of money and then cut benefits seems to me completely upside down and that is basic Christianity - not political.”
Kidderminster Foodbank has fed more than 4,000 people, including more than 1,000 children, since opening in May, 2012.
Wyre Forest MP Mark Garnier said the problem ran “far deeper” than just financial issues. “It is not about simply demonstrating living on a very tight budget for a month,” he added. “It is about the grinding depression people who are looking for work frequently feel - not knowing when they will ever get a job. People seeking work cannot simply opt to do it for a month.
“That is why we spend so much time in my office helping people with jobseekers allowance claims and why we are running jobs fairs to help people get off benefits and take control of their own life.”
The Shuttle’s Blackwell Street office is a collection point for the foodbank, which opens at Baxter Church in Kidderminster town centre on Mondays and Wednesdays from 12.30pm until 3.30pm and Fridays between 9.30am and 3.30pm.
Anyone needing help can call 07523 896280, 01562 746600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To read Ms McIntyre’s blog, visit throevaseyes.blogspot.co.uk