Horncastle food bank slams MP's comments as 'belittling clients lived experiences'

Horncastle Community Larder have said that an MP’s comments, alongside other sweeping statements by his colleagues, belittle their clients lived experiences.
Isabel Forrester of the Horncastle Community Larder.Isabel Forrester of the Horncastle Community Larder.
Isabel Forrester of the Horncastle Community Larder.

Tory MP Lee Anderson caused controversy this week by questioning whether food banks were necessary, claiming it was possible to cook nutritious meals for 30p each.

Horncastle Community Larder spokesman Isabel Forrester said that the MP’s "sweeping statements” belittle their clients lived experiences:

"What we see is that people who are already living at subsistence level are now faced with the same cost of living crisis, we all are, without any wriggle room to tighten their belts any further,” she said.

“Demand means that the area that this food bank formally used to cover pre-pandemic, now has seven emergency food provision services, in order to cater to the surge in need.

"Although on paper expecting people to rely on charitable services are a cost effective model for the government, it is clearly only a sticking plaster and we are not capable of solving the real issues of increasing poverty across the country.”

Isabel added that suggestions from MPs that those on the breadline need to budget better, or eat own brand products are neither “helpful or constructive solutions”:

"The volunteers and kind people who donate can only do so much to help our society through this cost of living crisis - we need Government intervention fast,” she added.

Lincolnshire County Councillor Karen Lee has said many of the problems her constituents experience come back to lack of money rather than cooking skills.

People are facing choices between heating and eating, she says.

“Conservative MPs are suggesting that people are struggling because they lack cooking skills, this show a shocking lack of empathy and insight into the challenges many people face,” said Councillor Lee.

Cooking and budgeting lessons can be useful if that’s what people want, but it’s not the reason most people are having problems. That comes back to a lack of money.

“Beans on toast may only cost 30p, but you can’t have that for every meal of every day and I’m sure the people would love to hear some more suggestions for 30p meals.

“People are having to choose between heating and eating as the cost of living rises.

“When people come to my surgery with a problem, quite often you unpick that and find there are actually several problems, including physical or mental health issues – and a significant number of those problems come back to lack of money.”

Lee Anderson, the MP for Sutton-in-Ashfield, has defended his comments, saying he was trying to educate people about cooking on a budget.

He told the House of Commons on Wednesday: “I think you’ll see first-hand that there’s not this massive use for food banks in this country. You’ve got generation after generation who cannot cook a meal from scratch. They cannot budget.”

When asked whether he believed food banks where necessary, he said it was “exactly my point”.

At present, Horncastle Community Larder is short of supplies of tins of ravioli, macaroni cheese, tinned vegetables and meat, longlife milk and milk powder, shaving foam, disposable razors, deodorant, shampoo, washing up liquid and toilet roll.

Donations of these items can be dropped at drop-off points at Tesco and the Lincolnshire Co-op in Horncastle and St Mary’s Church.

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