I opened the fridge again and stared.
I shut it again.
I opened the cupboard and stared.
…Maybe in the freezer? I spy a small amount of frozen mixed veg in a bag at the back.
Back to the cupboard… what could I make from salt; turmeric, a little flour and some rice?!
I googled it, and realised if I had an egg, I could do egg fried rice!!
I rummage in my handbag for change, my coat pocket; the top of the fridge; kids pockets, back of the sofa; I just need enough loose change to buy some eggs.
But would the kids eat it? They had simply requested beans on toast; yet a can of beans; loaf of bread, excluding any butter or grated cheese on top; would still cost more than the few pounds I had not quite scrapped together.
But what about breakfast, I’m out of milk. Maybe they’ll have some in the reduced section at the garage. I silently hope.
With a change in tax credits, a mistake later rectified, our usual £65 a week went down to £35 and was not stretching to feed a family of 5.
Examples like this are common. Increasingly, it’s those working that are now in this situation. Cost of living, and various expenses of life have risen. Taking a family swimming will cost more than a tenner and a trip to a cinema or a take away meal are an impossible luxury saved up for a very occasional indulgence.
This is why food banks are so important. Stereotypes of lazy people staying at home with big TVs, scrounging off the state are far from fair. (Although it’s often cheaper to have a TV on hire purchase; and if you can’t afford the bus fare out; let alone to go out for a cuppa with friends, a TV may be the only source of entertainment for hungry, tired and emotionally strained families.)
There are many ways one can be referred, from the housing association, family centres, community groups, GPs. Our case was handled with discretion and dignity. We weren’t made to fill out forms and beg or explain our every financial details. Instead, a kind woman turned up like a fairy godmother and dropped off delicious food. As the kids and I sat and drank in the sight of so much food I couldn’t help but send a prayer of thanks that we are in a society that helps like this. Practically. Quickly. Generosity in action.
We were offered toilet paper, toothpaste; lightbulbs, shower gel, as well as milk, cereal, bread and various cans & jars of food. When a budget is as tight as it is for many; lightbulbs, heating, even having the oven on for too long, can be luxuries that can’t be indulged. Although we only needed this service once; we are eternally grateful for the swift help. Providing food, but also hope for the family. Borderbags are being used around our community. These robust and quirky bags can pack a whole host of essentials and edibles inside. The bags not only reduce the plastic pollution that is spilling into our oceans; but reduces the pain of the political and economic situation that is resulting in many families going hungry.
ReTweed has partnered with Eyemouth Food Bank. I hope that Borderbags will go on from generation-to-generation – demonstrating that our local seaside town is pulling together in support for each other and it’s now travelling further afield as we use these bags again and again and again, passing on the new tradition of a plastic-free community to our kids; and teach them to support one other practically, every day by the choices we make.
This blog post was written by Emily Rennie – ReTweed Operations Coordinator