Opening up the fridge door to reveal an Aladdin’s Cave of edible wonders (often a clandestine trip to the kitchen after midnight) is something that most of us take for granted, perhaps even begrudgingly, as our waistlines appear to be ever expanding. However banal it seems for us, this is certainly not the daily routine for many people living today.
During Nutrition and Hydration Week, it seems apt to point out that for thousands - if not millions- of people in the UK-a full fridge of fresh food is something that is conjured in one place only: dreams. Not having access to nutritionally-good food as the cost of living continues to rise is a problem that affects the most vulnerable of us in society, and can have serious effects on both physical and psychological health. According to the Mental Health Foundation, diet can have a surprising impact on the development, management and prevention of many mental health issues including depression, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease. And all this is not to mention the stress involved when a person is unsure of how to get the most basic of provisions stretch a week.
It’s a problem that the Nutrition and Hydration Week is trying to draw attention to, locally, nationally and globally; having decent access to proper nutrition and hydration is fundamental to maintaining the well-being of any community. It is also something that dedicated local charity Banbury Food for Charities helps address.
Last Thursday, Banbury Food for Charities came to BYHP to launch their new book- a cookbook full of recipes designed to help people with basic cookery knowledge prepare meals from the fresh surplus food the charity collects from contributors such as Aldi, Sainsburys, Morrisons and M&S, and delivers to charities that either cook for vulnerable clients or distribute food parcels.
If you’ve ever lived on a low budget or have needed to visit a food bank in order to last the week, knowing what to cook with a limited range of pantry items and an odd mixture of ingredients can leave you stumped (think four bags of slightly limp carrots and a lone sausage). The Surplus Food Cookbook aims to give people a good starting point for ideas. And will be incredibly useful for many of our young people that come to us in need of our food bank.
As fresh food often presents many difficulties for food banks due to their perishable nature and storage problems, we are fortunate to be a partner charity with Banbury Food for Charities. Their weekly deliveries to us mean that we are able to offer a variety of goods to our young people, helping them to have a more diverse diet. We also occasionally receive bottles of water, which again with this week's focus on adequate hydration, can prove to be life-saving for a person sleeping rough. The re-useable nature of the bottles allows them to be refilled and saved for later when access to water-points may be difficult, often during the night.
When we talk about improving our own diets, drinking more water and trying to munch our way through all the portions of fruit and veg we're supposed to, we mustn't forget how hard it is for certain sections of society to even contemplate this due to financial hardship alone. But we should also remember that as a community, we can make big strides in ensuring that everyone has access to good nutrition and hydration.
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