Some people are forced to become minimalists, but I bet they don't call themselves minimalists, because of poverty.
Here in the UK, a rich country compared to many, more and more people are being forced to live below the poverty line. According to a recent report commissioned by Tesco, 18% of the UK population are forced to skip meals, ask friends or family for food, rely on a food bank or go without meals so that their children can eat. More than half a million people in the UK currently rely on food banks.
One such person is Jack Monroe, a 25 year old single mum from Southend-on-Sea, Essex, UK. I have only this weekend come across her blog, A Girl Called Jack. I know some of you have already come across this blog but I feel compelled to write about it here and urge you to take a look too. Jack's story is her own but not unique – having to sell all unnecessary items (she was left with two of everything for herself and her young son), being referred to a food bank although she feared it was the slippery slope to a referral to social services and being judged harshly by others. Her most popular post Hunger Hurts, in which she describes how she had to stretch food for her young boy and go hungry herself, will move and sadden you.
Jack's story has the promise of a happy ending as her below the budget recipe posts received massive hits, led to media interest and a recipe book deal. However, others remain trapped in this situation and need support, I believe.
So please, read Hunger Hurts for starters. I'm sure you'll feel compelled to read more and maybe help in some way – even if it's only reading and taking note of what Jack has to say. Her recipes are easy, budget friendly and yummy. A Girl Called Jack has a political edge too as Jack questions government issues and describes poverty issues as they are instead of how some in power judge them to be. Her writing, campaigning and recipes are an inspiration to those below the line and the many more of us who find our grocery budgets ever-stretched.
Like I said, I only discovered this blog at the weekend but I've already tried one recipe. For lunch today I made carrot, cumin and kidney bean soup – I felt I had to try one before writing this post. And I didn't need to go shopping for any of the ingredients for this recipe - they were all in my cupboard. It was delicious.
Just like we sometimes feel we have nothing to wear when we have a bulging wardrobe, how often do we feel we have nothing good to eat when we have plenty in our food cupboards? Could we donate a little cash or a few tins to a local food bank without leaving ourselves hungry? I bet we could. Food for thought, eh?