Back in 1995 when I was 17 I helped out in a soup kitchen, making butties for homeless people in Manchester. It felt like a good thing to do and I guess it was. It made me aware of the complex challenges some people face when they end up on the fringes of society. It gave me a better understanding of just how trapped a person – any person – can become.
The soup kitchen met a need. It stopped people from starving. It gave people a place to go that was out of the cold and (it was Manchester) the bitter rain. It was a place where a person could get a haircut. A wash. Advice. A smile. But its existence represented failure. People were living in such poverty that they were dependent on the goodwill to stand between them and starvation.
I feel the same way about food bank. Every time I hear the words “food bank” I wince. Every time I hear about a new food bank opening, I want to cry. Every time I donate food to a food bank I’m reminded of our failure. That’s because despite the dedication of the people who run them, and the generosity of the people who support them, food banks are a stark reminder of just how far we have drifted into becoming a land of haves and have nots.
It’s not as though people who use food banks are homeless. Many aren’t even out of work, but they’re living on the brink of poverty all the same and that’s just not right. Continue reading Wrestling with Food Banks