My Foodbank Challenge (4)

Although I hate to admit it, I didn’t completely fulfil the foodbank challenge. I managed just over three weeks. Why did I give in? Well there were a number of reasons:

  1. I really found it hard to put together a full meal from some of the foods, as there wasn’t always things that went together. A lot of this was probably me being quite choosy about what I eat. This resulted in me snacking a lot on things throughout the day and never really eating a proper meal. I think this ended up with me eating more in a day than I normally would and consuming more calories.
  2. The lack of fresh foods was something that I am not really used to. I don’t eat much tinned or processed food generally, so this was a bit of a shock to my system. I found a lot of the food unappetising, but again probably me being quite fussy.
  3. There seemed to be far too many carbs and not enough protein. In the week that I had eggs or cheese, it was a little easier, but I normally eat lots of fish and vegetable protein as well as quite a few eggs. I ate far too much bread and quite often had unhealthy things on the bread, such as chocolate spread.
  4. There just wasn’t enough milk for me. Even on the weeks when I didn’t have cereal, I found that I was really short of milk. I found myself drinking more coffee too, sometimes instead of eating properly.

After the three weeks, I have now returned to eating what I would normally eat. I have loved cooking foods from scratch this week and have enjoyed eating lots of fresh vegetables and fish. I’m still not the healthiest eater in the world, but I have really appreciated much more variety and being able to buy the foods that i love.

I have also found that I gained weight. I think that this is down to the processed foods along with the snacking. I have heard in the past, people saying things like ” well they hardly look like their starving, they can obviously afford junk food”. I don’t think it’s quite as straight forward as that. The cheaper foods that people buy fill you up and will feed a family on a budget, but they are not necessarily the healthiest of choices. Fresh foods and meals cooked from scratch are so much healthier, but you have to be able to afford them, have somewhere to store them and have a little bit of cooking and nutritional knowledge to put a decent meal together. Unfortunately not everyone is able to do this. Don’t assume that someone has to look skinny to be hungry or malnourished.

People ask why the foodbank doesn’t provide more fresh foods. The main reason is around longevity and storage. There are some fresh foods available most weeks, as well as frozen meats and other frozen foods. On a week to week basis no one knows how many referrals there will be, how many emergencies, whether there will be single people or large families in need. The only way to provide food in these circumstances is to have a good stock of basic tinned, dried and long life foods to ensure that there is always enough to provide for people in need. This can then be boosted with any fresh foods that are available.

Another thing that has reared its head again this week, particularly on social media, are the comments around “well they can afford a TV/Laptop/ weed/cigarettes (etc), why should we be providing them with food?” There is no simple answer to this. Some people cannot manage money very well, some may not prioritise, some may be struggling all the time, some may just be struggling short term. None of us are perfect. Lots of us are lucky enough to afford the things that we like as well as the things that we need. Using the services of a foodbank is not a lifestyle choice. It is a necessity for some people. How it became a necessity is not really for me to judge.

It is a personal choice whether you choose to give to a food bank or not, just the same as it is to give to any charitable cause. I will continue to volunteer and help where I can. I hope that I am never in a position to need the foodbank, but no one knows what the future holds or what help we might need.

Whatever your views, just be kind, try not to judge others who need help and hope that others won’t judge if you ever need help.

An Inspiring Weekend

The beginning of the week started off as fairly average really. Not that I’m complaining, sometimes having an ordinary makes me perfectly happy. However, this weekend was something else.

Volunteering Warms The Heart

On Saturday, because there was a shortage of volunteers, I helped out at Parkrun for the first time rather than running. I have to say, it was really great to see it from a different aspect. All the runners were so friendly and were thanking the volunteers as they ran past. I know when I run, I struggle to speak at all, but always try and give a smile to the volunteers just to let them know they are appreciated. I really enjoyed volunteering and as the last person came past, I walked around the rest of the course and then walked across the park too, just to make sure I got my steps in for the day. I’m glad I volunteered, as without people volunteering, things like the Parkrun wouldn’t exist.

Saturday afternoon was our church Summer Fair. I had created some activities for the children to do and some games and challenges for the adults too, all on a teddy bear theme. I think that most people enjoyed them. One was a matching game, a bit like the game of pairs, but timed to see who could do it fastest. It never ceases to amaze me how competitive adults can be! There were some who had to just have another go when someone had beaten their time.

The main event of the afternoon was parachuting teddy bears off the church tower. They  were hauled up in a basket, attached to a parachute and then launched off the roof. The winner was the bear who landed nearest to the target. A few of the bears got near the target but there were quite a few that had to be bravely rescued from trees and from the church roof!

Run For Jo

On Sunday I took part in the Run for Jo at Oakwell Hall Country Park in Birstall. The day started with me singing with Batley Community Choir, as we opened the days celebrations in memory of Jo Cox. It was warm but quite drizzly, but we sang our hearts out on the little stage. Everyone was excited by the fact that Eddie Izzard was joining in the run and he gave a short speech before a warm up for the runners.

Luckily the rain dried up and the sun started to show its face, just before the runs started. The first run was 2.5k and there were people of all ages taking part, from really small toddlers, to grandparents. It was great to cheer them on at various places around the course.

The next run was 6.5k, which I had signed up for, but to be quite honest, a few minutes before it started I was having serious doubts about why I had! I don’t know why I do this. Whenever I have put my mind to something in the past I always manage to achieve it, so I need to stop convincing myself that I can’t.

The run was through the park, across fields, paths, through trees and bridges over streams. Interspersed along the way were singers, drummers, buskers and cheerleaders, along with the marshals, all willing everyone along and keeping us all going. There was even a climb over a style at one point, which allowed everyone to catch their breath whilst they waited. I managed to have enough energy on the way round to say thank you to the musicians and marshals.

The finish of the run was down hill and I managed to run all the way to the finish line hearing people cheering. It may have taken me 57 minutes, but what an amazing feeling!

After We had food, there was then a mascots race, where Ronnie the Rhino, The Fairtrade banana and various other mascots raced against each other.

It was an absolutely brilliant day, with people of all ages coming together to run together and to celebrate #more in common, remembering Jo Cox, whose vision for a better world has inspired so many people.

Long may it continue!