Pontifications on a road less travelled. Feed me!



You see it’s all the fault of ‘the other lot.’ The growth in foodbanks is all due to the wicked tories, or it’s because the last labour government spent all the money, or they’re all scroungers anyway. (Delete as your current political allegiance dictates.


But it’s worth taking a look at the embarrassing details. In the UK, the impetus to found the first Foodbank, the Salisbury Foodbank, came in 2000. The UK Foodbank Network was formed in 2004. Now these didn’t just spring into operation and then go round wondering if there were people who needed feeding. You don’t start a Foodbank in a town and by that one act create a pool of desperate people who come to you for food. The demand is there, the Foodbank is formed to meet a demand that people in that area have noticed. The need for the Salisbury Foodbank was there long before 2000.
In the UK the Trussell Trust now has 420 Foodbanks. These actually work out of about 1200 centres, so a Foodbank in a city can have a couple of extra distribution centres so people don’t have to travel too far at their own expense.

There are other independent Foodbanks that are not affiliated to the Trust. Figures differ but it’s estimated that the Trust gave out 1,332,952 vouchers last year.

In comparison the Germans have over 900 Foodbanks and according to the latest figures I can find, in 2014, 1.5 million people a week used Foodbanks in Germany. Again, it looks as if about 3.5 million people rely on Foodbanks in France.


The number of Foodbanks in Germany

The figures aren’t directly comparable, a lot of French Foodbanks seem to provide hot meals rather than just food, and German Foodbanks look to be a lot larger.

But one thing is obvious. A phenomenon that started in the 1990s in the UK, Germany and other countries, isn’t just something you can blame on one UK party. After all, the three main parties have been in power, alone or in coalition, during that period and none of them actually bothered to do anything to deal with the issue.

The problem is far deeper. Some of it might be that political parties and movements have become fixated on systems and have largely ignored real people. Some of it might be that our political elite are so cut off from the real world at the Foodbank door, that they assume that if you just put money in the appropriate government budget, then the problem is solved. Whether the money is used well or badly, spent on the poor or frittered away on consultants and staff bonuses isn’t an issue they’ve ever considered to be important.

Perhaps it’s ‘globalisation’; perhaps it’s the fact that the EU drove austerity?

And the solution? Well at the moment the only people who’re actually doing anything about it are the volunteers in the Foodbanks. In churches up and down the country, or in rooms that have been begged or rented, volunteers and a miniscule number of paid staff are taking the strain.

Whilst politicians are happy to blame it on their political opponents; the churches and other bodies are actually doing something to help.

Whilst a political elite pontificates, I for one would respect them more if they just shut up and put in a shift, anonymously helping in the warehouse.


What is it Tolkien said?
“This is the hour of the Shire-folk, when they arise from their quiet fields to shake the towers and counsels of the Great.”


Just tell the politicians to get out of the way and let the people fix the problem.

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11 thoughts on “Pontifications on a road less travelled. Feed me!

  1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt December 5, 2018 at 10:22 pm Reply

    The problem is far deeper than just food. I think we’ve had them a long time here.

    • jwebster2 December 5, 2018 at 10:43 pm Reply

      yes I know you have foodbanks and food pantries and similar but I wasn’t sure how comparable they were with our system so I decided not to mention them. The problem is deep

  2. M T McGuire December 9, 2018 at 8:51 am Reply

    I think there is a disrespect for other people. As a meritocracy those who have dragged themselves up by their bootstraps and made something of themselves look down on others who lack the drive, determination or out-and-out good luck to do the same thing. I absolutely agree that the political classes are completely out of touch. My grandfather used to commute to London on the train. She carriage, same people. One of them was Harold Macmillan. The country’s prime minister commuted to London on the train with all the other businessmen. Nobody thought twice about it. Sure he was only mingling with the bowler hatted classes, and the guard, but at least he was out of the strange and rarified atmosphere of Westminster – although that was probably less strange and rarified back then too. As we become more security conscious and go everywhere in cars we meet a less varied selection of people. As we happen upon less should from other backgrounds we and become more way of them and any other folks who aren’t like us. I think people were always snotty with one another. But we’re probably more suspicious these days.

  3. M T McGuire December 9, 2018 at 8:53 am Reply

    Sorry I meant as we happened upon smaller numbers of folks from different backgrounds in passing we become more wary of folks who are like us.

    • jwebster2 December 9, 2018 at 9:59 am Reply

      I think you’re right. We’ve lost the big shake up we had during the war. I remember one chap with a broad Lancashire accent commenting that “when he’s dragged you out of a burning tank you don’t care whether he talks like a toff”

      • M T McGuire December 9, 2018 at 9:25 pm

        I was thinking about it today after a dig. There are all sorts from all backgrounds and of all beliefs but we are united by a common interest and it’s brilliant. What’s more we all get along very well, which just goes to show.

      • jwebster2 December 9, 2018 at 9:28 pm

        A lot of male pursuits/hobbies can be like that as well, for many of us, the ‘hobby’ is all absorbing and lesser matters fade into the background 🙂
        I say ‘male pursuits’ because by definition they are the ones I know. Whether the ladies have similar I cannot say.

      • M T McGuire December 9, 2018 at 9:31 pm

        Yep we do. Different kinds of things and occasionally we get something like metal detecting where both sexes can enjoy it. 😊😊

      • jwebster2 December 9, 2018 at 9:40 pm

        Round here I’ve never met any female metal detectorists which has surprised me because it never struck me as an obviously male pursuit. But I have two female friends on social media, you and one in the antipodes who both are keen.
        I get occasional phone calls or visits from people wanting permission to do metal detecting, and in three cases it has actually been their wife or daughter who’ve phoned, because they want something for husband/dad that will help him get out.
        In one case the man is recovering from a nervous breakdown, so the peace is brilliant for him. In the other case he’s got a serious long term condition but he’s determined not to let it stop him and he really enjoys himself when he’s out and about. We’ve even had him helping moving sheep before now 🙂

  4. patriciaruthsusan December 10, 2018 at 1:09 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    Wise advice from Jim Webster on food distribution to those in need.

    • jwebster2 December 10, 2018 at 10:07 pm Reply

      Glad you found it useful

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