Rod Liddle

Why are there so many fat people in pictures of food banks?

If you’re going to take advantage of a food bank, at least have the good grace to look a bit peckish and skeletal

13 December 2014

9:00 AM

13 December 2014

9:00 AM

Were you aware that the famous actor Andy Garcia was born with a foetus growing out of his left shoulder? It was removed from him when he was a toddler. I had not known this and I am unhappy that some sort of conspiracy, some wall of silence, was constructed to keep this news from the paying public. I watched The Untouchables in blissful ignorance of the fact; had I known I would have picketed the cinema. Come clean about the dead foetus, Garcia! I am aware of the foetus business now only because I stumbled across an excellent website entitled ‘25 Celebrities With Hideous Physical Deformities’, and Garcia was there at number six. Another actor, Jennifer Garner, was in the top ten on account of her ‘mangled toes’, which she has cunningly shielded from the public all these years. The bad toes were the consequence of a nasty condition called brachymetatarsia, apparently. And the singer Kesha has a tail. Surely this sort of stuff should have been made public before? These people are happy to bask in mass public adoration — but would that adoration have been forthcoming if we had known all along that they were monsters? I doubt it very much.

I found the site during my early morning trawl of the internet looking for people less fortunate than myself. I find it difficult to start the day without a good gloat — just ten minutes or so to get the juices flowing. I had actually tapped in to my search engine: ‘Photographs of people getting stuff from food banks’, which I was sure would cheer me up for a while. But, strangely, there are very few such shots available. There are plenty of photographs of do-gooders handing out crates of food, smiling beatifically and with halos around their heads, but very few of the actual customers. And when, after exhaustive searching, I did find three or four such pictures, I was filled not with glee but instead with an unquenchable anger.

You see, the one thing all the people in those photographs had in common is that they were morbidly obese. Very, very, fat indeed. It occurred to me that these people had already spent vast amounts of money on food and had dropped by the local food bank for a freebie top-up. They didn’t look as if they were, you know, starving. They looked as though they were well and truly sated already. First they had cleared out Morrisons and then they had cleared out the stuff which Morrisons had itself cleared out to the local food bank.


And so it seems incontestable that, far from providing an invaluable last-course resource for the nation’s poorest people, these food banks are actually exacerbating the country’s appalling obesity problem. If you’re going to take advantage of a food bank, at least have the good grace to look a bit peckish and skeletal. Don’t waddle in there sweating with exertion having just swallowed 14 bacon double cheeseburgers, super-size fries and a vat of coke.

Food banks are in the news just now because, apparently, they bring shame and disgrace on this great country of ours, and not just because they are fuelling the obesity epidemic. This is according to the food blogger Jack Monroe, who is rapidly emerging as one of the nation’s most supremely irritating people. It was Monroe who tweeted her disgust about how the Prime Minister ‘uses stories about his dead son’ to sell off the NHS to ‘his friends’, an observation for which she was rightly castigated. Her job, when not tweeting idiocies, is to concoct recipes to feed the supposedly starving masses — but, in truth, she creates dishes which could only possibly be eaten by middle-class lesbians like Jack herself. I mean, do you fancy a full English or a plate of Jack’s kale pesto?

But Jack was not alone in feeling shamed by food banks. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has just presented a report about poverty in Britain. He said that the impoverishment of millions of British people was more shocking, to him, than poverty in such places as Africa. I like Welby; he is a patently decent chap with a touch of humility about him. But I wonder if he should have run his comments by his rival for the top job, the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu? He could have enlightened Justin as to the very real differences between poverty levels in the UK and those in Africa, from personal experience. Sentamu was brought up in Idi Amin’s Uganda and knows poverty when he sees it. Anyway, Welby’s report called for the nationalisation of food banks under some new department called Feeding Britain, at a cost of something like £150 million to the taxpayer.

Rather wonderfully, the food bank people have not concurred. Indeed, the man who set up one of the country’s most successful food banks, in Oxford, has suggested that nothing could be worse. Robin Aitken MBE is a former BBC journalist (and an ex-employee of mine at the Today programme). He is a staunch and fairly right-ish Conservative, if I remember correctly. He said that rather than bringing shame or disgrace upon the country, ‘Food banks are a marvellous example of how the best instincts of society can be harnessed into voluntary, grass-roots action to help people who are most in need. Far from helping, I think state involvement would be toxic.’ That seems to be right, doesn’t it? If there is money to be spent on alleviating poverty, then use it to raise the minimum wage so that fewer people need the food banks. And leave the running of the food banks to people like Robin Aitken.

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  • Pootles

    There isn’t just one reason why people use food banks, but having spent what should have been food money on drugs and alcohol is one reason. Also, as the realisation that food banks exist gains ground, then you can bet that they will become victims of their own success, and people will just opt for free stuff rather than use their money to buy food.

    • Samson

      It isn’t the primary reason. Constantly rising bills and rents and stagnant wages that will only barely meet them, if you’re lucky enough to not earn the minimum wage or below, in which case debt, debt, debt for you. Ovens break, people need new glasses, the kids need new clothes regularly. These things can so easily tip people over into the need for assistance, and the problem is only increasing. The Right seem to get great satisfaction out of thinking that everyone who needs help is a morbidly obese junkie liar, but if you actually volunteered at a food bank, and I know Liddle wouldn’t dirty himself around the scum of the earth who earn below 50k a year, then you’d notice that quite a few of them are just as bony as you’d like, and many of them are working people who get paid a dogs wage for breaking their backs. What a lovely Christian country.

      • We aren’t really a Christian country anymore, though, are we? Decisions were taken by our Marxist conspirers to replace the tried-and-tested moral code of the Church with its antithesis, the state. The modern day form of blasphemy is criticising our beloved NHS, the jewel of a million galaxies and envy of gods and men.

        And my, how much Progress we have made. A population that does not even breed enough to replace itself. Kids who have no identity and know nothing about anything worth knowing. All while we shelter a fifth column with 1300 years’ history of war against our people.

        • red2black

          It’s fair to ask just exactly how ‘Christian’ we really ever have been.

        • Gregory Mason

          Easily the best comment I’ve read all day.

          • kittydeer

            Probably the best I’ve read in years

        • Swanky

          ‘our beloved NHS, the jewel of a million galaxies and envy of gods and men.’

          Heh heh. That’s very good… and funny.

        • Pacificweather

          Are you talking about Oldham?

      • Pootles

        Yes,I didn’t say it was the primary reason. Are there any figures giving numbers of people who use them, and theirbackground? My observation arose from working alongside a drugs & alcohol charity in recen years – substance misuse creates the sort of problems that lead to food banks.

      • John Lea

        Funny how these impoverished 17-stone waifs always have top-of-the-range mobile phones and the latest Arsenal top.

        • Seldom Seen

          Don’t forget the 55 inch plasma TV and the latest iPhone

      • susie24

        Samson, thankyou the voice of reason and basic understanding and compassion amongst the blatant ignorance and selfish bile on here.

      • Wessex Man

        I keep checking to make sure on still on a Spectator site!

      • Julie

        Seems to me that more needs to be done to help keep the cost of living down, while blaming the poor for their own situation is just an excuse not to help people who dearly need our assistance.

    • Exsugarbae

      I don’t do drugs I haven’t drunk in 6 years but I tried getting benefits after being a full time a full time student and the dole gave me excuse after excuse for about a month not to pay me, family bailed e out but if I didn’t have them I would have gone to food bank.

      • Pootles

        Yes, I’ve had to bail out my own son, and his ex-wife, in similar circumstances. But that doesn’t change the fact that there will be people tht do substance misuse.

        • Exsugarbae

          Of course, if there are freebies there will be someone exploiting they system but I think most food bank users are in need as they have got bigger since benefit changes.

    • susie24

      Poot, You have just demonstrated how incredibly ignorant you are about the plight of millions of your fellow citizens, you should be ashamed!

      • Wessex Man

        oh do grow up!

    • Old Nick

      The largest single reason that people come to the Food Bank where I help out when I can is that their benefits have been delayed. And people cannot simply ‘opt’ for them, they have to recommended by an appropriate charity or government office

  • red2black

    A very good point buried under so much dross.

  • beenzrgud

    I thought people had to be referred in order to have access to food banks. It is clearly a limited resource so prioritising access would make sense.

    • commenteer

      You do have to be referred, but who does the referring? Erm, local priests, among others, and doctors, who are also a well-known soft touch for a sob story.
      Food in my area is generally dropped off at pick-up points, to avoid the shame of actually appearing at a food bank. Or to avoid the shame of being a fat person at a food bank, perhaps.

      • Samson

        It’s all a conspiracy. Wages aren’t stupidly low and bills aren’t constantly rising – the poor are actually all wealthy, up to their necks in oysters and caviar, and the priests are just in on the scam.

      • Old Nick

        Because doctors and priests are stupid (that’s how they got into medical school and theological college). What is more they never see people who actually have anything wrong with them, physically or spiritually and are therefore completely incapable of diagnosing human conditions.

  • Damaris Tighe

    This raises the issue of what counts as poverty in the UK. When Save the Children ran a series of TV ads showing British children (actors) living in appalling conditions I just didn’t believe it, because having children is the gateway to generous state benefits. Parent & their children may not live the life of riley on state benefits (although some seem to manage it) but the wolf must surely be a long way from the door. Unlike unfavoured categories of need such as single men, who have to rely on charities such as St Martins in the Fields.

    Poverty in Britain is defined as ‘relative poverty’. It’s measured as a percentage of the average income & thus implies the socialist idea of ‘deprivation’ from something one is ‘entitled’ to rather than real poverty. Maybe that’s why some of the visitors to food banks look obese.

    That being said, I understand that there is a problem for people who’ve had their benefits or income abruptly stopped & for them food banks are a lifeline.

    • Swanky

      Hi Damaris. Obesity has much more to do with eating the wrong foods than it does with portion control — although, if your fat stores aren’t accessible to burn because insulin has put them in ‘the fat vault’, so to speak, then portions will get larger to compensate. It’s a complex issue and at the heart of it is highly processed, refined carbohydrates, which are cheap and satisfying foods for people that a) have little money and b) have little satisfaction from other aspects of their lives. Obesity is a sign of metabolic disturbance and can also be a sign of malnutrition. Do see my comment to Rod, above.

      • Damaris Tighe

        Hi there Swanky. I agree, in rich western societies the causes of obesity are poor diet. Not far from me there’s a run down former mining town where many people are on benefits. I was amazed to see that its high street is wall to wall takeaways selling the most expensive & fattening food you can buy.

        All the more extraordinary because many (most?) of their customers will be time rich, so could cook meals from scratch. I suspect part of the problem is that they don’t know how to cook, or how to use cheap but healthy ingredients.

        • red2black

          But these pizza parlours and other junk food outlets are part of the entrepreneurial spirit that drives our economy.

          • Damaris Tighe

            Nothing wrong with them. May they flourish. I’m just questioning whether they should be so popular (as it seems) as a regular source of food for people on benefits. Or for anyone as it happens. I love the occasional Big Mac. But I wouldn’t live on them.

          • monty61

            Indeed, and these righteous people have innovated for us the £3.50 bowl of cornflakes.

          • global city

            Who pays the rates, the rent, the leccy bill, the wages, insurance, tables, chairs, utlery, crockery, milk, etc, on top of the cost of purchasing a box or two of cereal and divvying them up into breakfast portions?

          • Stugre

            Why is this surprising? Calculate the cost of making yourself a large black coffee at home then nip out and see what a large americano will cost you at Starbucks or somewhere else.

            Then consider that breakfast cereal is actually bloody expensive to start with and nobody in their right mind is going to their place for “cornflakes” in any case.

        • Swanky

          Yes, cooking at home and eating whole foods really are the keys, I think. Can be fun, too. As you say, these people are time-rich. But perhaps being time-rich leads to laziness. I also find that it’s easier to eat what you know you should when it’s been prepared ahead of time, and can just be re-heated or bunged on the plate. I’m thinking of veggies, mainly.

          • Damaris Tighe

            Yes, so true, I always lose my appetite if I have to eat immediately after the food has been laboriously prepared & cooked! I even cook & freeze spaghetti long before I need it.

          • Joseph Narcisse Bouche’

            Is this a joke?

          • susie24

            Don’t forget the cost of energy needed to cook a meal. If you are living on the edge the pre payment energy rates are horrendous.

          • iviv44

            Not really, compared with other costs for a meal. How much energy does it cost to boil pasta and heat up a sauce? A fraction of a kWh – lets say 0.25 kWh. At standard rates that is about 3p for electricity or 1p for gas. Even at prepaid rates it is still very small.

          • susie24

            Assuming you haven’t had your energy “cut off” because you can’t afford to pay the bill, or you have enough money to buy a pre payment card. My local chippie sells a “small” portion of chips which will feed 2 for £1. How much would it cost to make your pasta and sauce for 2, bearing in mind that without the sauce the pasta is not exactly a balanced nutritious meal? There are many reasons for not eating “healthy” meals and they are not all due to laziness or ignorance, sometimes it is down to necessity.

          • Neil Saunders

            Great – let’s move all the huddled, starving masses to somewhere within easy reach of your local chippie. Problem solved!

          • susie24

            Was that comment serious? Was it meant to be humorous? No it was no doubt as inane as it read.

          • Neil Saunders

            No, susie24, it was intended to be ironic.

          • susie24

            It failed

          • Neil Saunders

            Obviously. However, if you read my other comments on this thread you’ll note that I’m actually on your side.

          • susie24

            Oh sorry! Please accept my apology. I know I get very defensive on these sites because I come up against what I feel is ignorance and, all too often, abuse. There is so much unfairness and unnecessary suffering in society that I feel we are going back decades. Why cannot people see what is happening?

          • Neil Saunders

            There’s no need to apologise – I expressed myself misleadingly, and was therefore misunderstood. My fault, not yours! In my crude way I was attempting a reductio ad absurdum of the sort of argument that proponents of what we might term the “feckless 17-stone underclass with top-of-the-range smartphones” school of sociological analysis might try to use against you.

            I’ve suffered on this thread myself from selectively “compassionate” fools breaking the amazing news to me that there are very poor people in places like Africa and Asia, as if this somehow negates and renders morally suspect actual (as distinct from purportedly relative) deprivation and suffering in the UK.

          • Wessex Man

            the record is broken!

          • iviv44

            There are indeed many reasons for not eating a balanced diet, but necessity is a very poor excuse. For instance, the pasta above — even if we splash out and get some high quality stuff — will cost about 20p for a 100g serving. Add the ‘leccy and the water and it might come to 23p. That will not be balanced (but then neither are the chips). Some cheese on top (lets get some nice cheese; 25p for 25g). A quick tomato sauce (throw together tinned tomatoes with some onion and garlic) doesn’t cost much more. Or fry some garlic in oil and add that – helps sate the hunger (as George Orwell noted in his Paris / London diaries)

            The point is that you can eat well for little money, and I (and a number of the posters on this thread) have first hand experience of doing so. This is not to say that there are not real pressures on people without money but, frankly, much of the world would view the menu above as pretty extravagant. People could prepare and eat such food themselves and I think it would be better to look in more detail at the factors that mean they don’t rather than say that they fail to cook out of “necessity”. That is the entrance to a self-pitying downward spiral, which seems to characterise Rod’s observations.

          • Pacificweather

            You do like your pasta al dente don’t you?

          • iviv44

            as it happens, I do, but do the maths and you will find out that you can have it in the traditional English “soggy mess” style for that price too.

          • Pacificweather

            Pot noodles. Love ’em.

          • Swanky

            Hi Susie. I don’t know anything about that because I live in America, where we have a generous not to say lavish welfare system and food stamps and no one should think twice about cooking.

            I must say that I find that sort of poverty hard to imagine though, in the First World. I should have thought that anyone with at least a high school education, which the taxpayers provide, should be able to get a job and earn enough to pay the bills. And Britain also has generous welfare provision, does it not? In fact, my understanding is that it is so generous, and taxes are so high on income, that many people rationally choose the dole over work because working for their money wouldn’t make them better off.

          • susie24

            A high school education SHOULD provide a way out of poverty but recently most jobs are either part time or very low paid regardless of education levels. (we have thousands of unemployed graduates) This country’s pay rates are now one of the lowest in the so called top EU countries. The majority of those needing welfare are working, working for poverty wages. The welfare system used to be enough to meet basic needs until the tories came to power. Now claimants can be sanctioned for the flimsiest of reasons and left without any income for months. In fact the government department responsible for paying social security now has “targets” for it’s staff to meet on sanctions with wall charts showing how much can be “saved” by each sanction. The problem over working or not working is there, some wages are so poor that benefits may be better, but the benefits are still at poverty levels. Taxation may seem high to you but we get (or used to get) a lot for it, free healthcare and education, pensions, income support etc. Please do not believe what you read in our right wing press, it is quite simply, lies.

          • Swanky

            Well, but again, the ultimate problem is that wages are low because companies can’t afford to pay higher ones. Why can’t they afford higher wages? Because of excessive taxation and costly regulation. But mainly because of the tax-cost of doing business. And it’s Leftism that is mainly responsible for that — the idea that government can spend our money better than we can — not classical liberals or conservatives.

          • Neil Saunders

            Are you paid to write this drivel, or are you just a freelance, pro malo spouter of nonsense?

          • Swanky

            Sorry that you think truth is ‘drivel’, but that’s your problem not mine.

          • Neil Saunders

            I’m sorry that you think drivel is the truth, but that’s your problem.

          • Swanky

            Um, I try to help the economically and politically illiterate but unfortunately they don’t like arguments. However, other people do respond to arguments so that’s why I keep making them.

          • susie24

            I am afraid that the American philosophy on government, taxation and social justice is very different from the British. I am proud that the “left” has a social conscience and does not adopt the “I’m all right Jack to hell with you ” attitude of the right. Many of those companies paying poverty wages are making billions in profit, they are profiteering at the expense of their employees and the British taxpayers. This country has one of the lowest rates of corporation tax in Europe, perhaps if all those companies paid that tax instead of avoiding it the rate of tax could be lowered.

          • Wessex Man

            is it nice and soft and fluffy in your fantasy land? you need to get out more and see real poverty, real loss of hope, real people expecting nothing other than death, you could make a start in the camps that surround Iraq and Syria.

            The poverty you think you see in England is nothing less slobbish laziness.

          • Swanky

            ‘ one of the lowest rates of corporation tax in Europe,’
            I’m afraid that’s not correct nor even nearly true.
            Also you make a huge assumption about Americans that is simply unfounded. As I’ve said, we have lavish safety nets here. But we’re in general much better off than Britons are. And that’s because we encourage enterprise and free markets. ‘A rising tide lifts all boats’ and socialism, as the 20th century shockingly proved, does not work. Poor people have done better in the freest parts of the West in our time precisely because companies and entrepreneurs can go after profits — which they partly spend on hiring workers!

            You need to read some Adam Smith and learn about enlightened self-interest and how that really is what creates wealth. Government doesn’t create wealth: it eats it up.

          • Old Nick

            On the contrary. America is ‘prosperous’ because it has exploited half a continent. And I could take you to areas of your country which suggest that its provision for the poor and hungry is a good sight less than lavish.

          • Swanky

            Rubbish!

          • Old Nick

            So the United States has not exploited half a continent. Je m’en doute. And if you want to sample the lavish provision your government makes for the poor, I suggest you visit an Indian reservation, or come to the Sunday Night Suppers laid on for the poor in the churches of the city where I am compelled to spend much of my life.

          • Pacificweather

            America’s hatred of socialism is manifest in the 67% subsidies its farmers receive. Let us ignore the pork barrel politics.

          • Nkaplan

            ” I am proud that the “left” has a social conscience ”

            Indeed, the left is attempting to nationalise conscience along with everything else. It then wonders why people act so selfishly. Has it ever occurred to you that constantly preaching to people that all problems are created by ‘society’ (rather than the individuals of which it is composed) and that only ‘society’ has the ability and responsibility to resolve them, tends to have a deadening effect on people’s willingness to help each other themselves?

          • susie24

            As far as I can remember I have never preached that ” all problems are created by society”. It is not what I believe. The problems are caused by a number of factors, political ideology, corporate greed, individual greed, individual selfishness, the failure of governments to recognise that they are supposed to be running a country for the benefit of all it’s citizens and not just creating a balance sheet for a P/L account. However society as a whole does have a responsibility to reject the ethos of those causing the problems and to demand a fairer society with social justice and a much greater sense of social equity rather than iniquity. A social conscience is not necessarily the prerogative of the left although that is where one is usually found.

          • Pacificweather

            Wages are low because the UK is addicted to employer subsidies. Why would you pay a living wage if the government will top up wages with benefits paid for by the tax payer. Until we remove these subsidised jobs our economy is never going to grow productively.

          • commenteer

            Even grilling cheese on toast, using a full size grill in the oven, only costs about 3p. Using a single gas hob at its lowest level really does cost almost nothing. Slow cooked stews with pulses and added vegetables are healthy, filling and very cheap, but they do require a bit of effort. That’s the real trouble here, I think.

          • susie24

            I don’t wish to appear pedantic, but we are not talking one meal. Also you are assuming that the gas/electric hasn’t been cut off or that even though they haven’t money for food they would have for a prepayment card.

          • commenteer

            I don’t wish to be pedantic either, but I was giving just two examples. If you want full monthly menus showing how you can eat well on very little money I can certainly provide them, having had, like many self-employed people, long periods of pinched circumstances in my own life.
            For any family with children in this country, where benefit levels are extremely generous, there is no excuse for eating badly.

          • susie24

            Generous? Perhaps they used to be but they have not kept up with inflation for at least 6 years now. Also many of these people have been sanctioned for 1 month or 3 months or even a year and then get nothing. They quite often have absolutely nothing to fall back on and even cheap food requires cash to buy it. I don’t believe people in this country realise what has been going on in this country for the last 4.5 years1

      • balance_and_reason

        No….doing no work or excersize and eating the wrong food in large quantities.

        • Swanky

          So we agree then. But the food is the most important thing. I know lots of people that never exercise beyond a shuffling walk, and they are thin as reeds. Some people have more genetic help than others — don’t get the same insulin rush and don’t develop as much resistance to it, which as you know triggers yet more of it. And insulin is the fat-storing hormone.

          • Gwangi

            Is it healthy to be thin as a reed? You can’t see inside them to see how their organs are coated in coagulating lard eh? If you want to know how long anyone will live, look at their social class and how long their grandparents lived.

          • Swanky

            If their organs were coated with lard, chances are there would be visible signs right under the skin, as well.

            I overspoke, anyway. I should have said — but I try to keep things brief — people that are anywhere from comfortably slim to thin.

          • balance_and_reason

            Yes, a complete lack of self control with regards to food.

          • Swanky

            No. It’s not all about self-control; for the past few decades we have all been told in very authoritarian terms to eat low-fat food, pig out on fruit, and to bulk up on fibrous foods which really means anything from oranges to breakfast cereal, and to eat grains. We were also told to avoid meat fats and eggs. This was precisely the wrong advice.

            You surely must see that this is so. We haven’t had an epidemic of irresponsibility in the last 40 years. What we’ve had instead is an epidemic of faulty eating and horrendously bad medical advice.

          • balance_and_reason

            Fair point but quantity is about self control and basic IQ…..also eat loads of fat and see where that gets you…the medical advice has not been 100% off course.

            People should eat a balanced spread of food and A LOT LESS!

          • Swanky

            Fat is only a problem if you’re having highly processed foods, and mainly that means unnatural fats allied with refined grains.

            Portions have to be larger for fat people because the kind of food they eat is put ‘off limits’ to their body by the metabolic disruption caused by excess insulin and the storage of energy as triglycerides. They need to eat more because they have bigger bodies to haul around, and because the energy they need from their last meal is not fully accessible. Watch the Gary Taubes video and you’ll learn about it.

          • Wessex Man

            I don’t believe it now we are getting biology

            lessons! All they need to do is to get off their fat a**** and end do a bit of work!

          • Swanky

            What don’t you believe? The truth IS what it is. If you prefer moral indignation, you’re actually doing injustice because the fat people mainly don’t deserve it.

          • Wessex Man

            bu*****s!

          • Swanky

            I hardly need make an argument as you’re making my point for me! Isn’t there any fun thing to do at your place on a Saturday night?

          • Wessex Man

            Just surfaced after a party, yes there’s plenty of fun at my place all paid for with my hard work, time for you pest do-gooders to get a life!

      • Gwangi

        There is no such thing as ‘the wrong foods’ or ‘junk food’. All food is, by definition, the ‘right’ food because it keeps you alive, non? To label some foods as villains and others as heroes (the absurd marketing gimmick of so-called ‘superfoods’ or ‘5 a day’ for example) is silly.

        All one needs is a balanced diet – in which all foods and food types can be represented. Look at a diet over a month to see what you’re eating. Portion size in the UK is not a problem as in the US though, where portion sizes are for working men but eaten by idle women and men and children.

        The thing is, if someone is born to a mother who had eaten a limited diet full of fast food etc, that baby is born with a natural taste for those foods and nothing else (evolution, that, innit?); and then if aforementioned lower social class mummy does not feed the child proper foods such as vegetables at a very young age, they will never get the taste and will always struggle to eat them, preferring chips and pizza instead!

        • Swanky

          Well, in the first place a Mars bar has the potential to wreak metabolic havoc whereas an egg doesn’t, so food is not all equal because of how the body responds in the short and long term.

          Also, it has been found that Europeans have a greater tolerance for carbohydrates than other populations:

          According to The Art And Science Of Low-Carbohydrate Living by Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek,

          Any one person’s DNA is about 99-99.5% identical to any other person’s DNA….* [O]n average, people from cultures that historically have high starch diets (such as Japanese and European Americans) have more copies of the gene salivary amylase than people from cultures that historically eat low starch diets (such as Mbuti and Yakut). Amylase is involved in digesting carbohydrates. More copies of the salivary amylase gene correlates with more enzymatic activity [in the metabolism of carbohydrates].

          This means that all food is not equally good for all people.

          Basically, any food will keep you alive but the real question is a) what food does you body preferentially burn and b) what is the cost in terms of organ functioning if you eat foods it doesn’t prefer?

        • iviv44

          Strictly speaking what you describe is not evolution but Lamarckism, a rather discredited theory (barring some interesting epigenetic effects). Sure there will be social pressures, but the “natural taste” the child has will be insignificantly different to that of a child fed on pulses and pasta.

    • susie24

      There is also a problem for those working full time on poverty pay. I understand that the majority of poverty is now amongst the working poor. Hard to believe in this the 6th richest country in the world? Yes hard to believe and absolutely shameful.

      • Wessex Man

        Yes it’s very very hard to believe, in fact I don’t believe this sanctimonous claptrap rubbish preaching for a moment. The poverrty stricken mass you constantly moan for need to get into the real world along with you. You Polly Toynbee pupil!

        • pointlesswasteoftime

          I’ve been reading through this thread, including the replies you have left me, and you seem very angry. I have no idea what the cause, or how to help, but I don’t think that directing it at people who see things differently helps you to change their minds (certainly not mine), or even more importantly (arguably) helps you to help yourself.

          • Wessex Man

            There you go, I have a different opinion so I’m angry, I don’t need help, I need for you and the other people here who agree with you to open your eyes and think is it real poverty for a family in a camp in Jordon with one or both parents dead, starving with no change of clothes no way of keeping warm in the coming months, always hungry, always fearful or is it the mother who pops down to the local food bank to pick up her second shop in her car!

          • pointlesswasteoftime

            Yo use words like “sanctimonious claptrap”, “bone lazy”. “bu*****s!”, that’s why Ithink you’re angry, not because we disagree.

            And while I agree that people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, … well, no need to list every camp or site of human squalor, is there?… have horrible times and difficult lives, you don’t seem to accept that people using food banks are living here, in the UK, the 6th richest country in the world, where they have to pay rent and utilities and transport and food bills that go with being that sort of economy.

            Life in USA is half as expensive – we pay nearly double on everything they have. Why? Poor wages? Greedy manufavturers? A combination of both?

            Are you saying users of foodbanks should experience the same sort of squalor as those in refugee camps to be deserving? They are expected to be productive members of THIS society. How can they be if they are hungry?

          • Wessex Man

            I’m saying nothing of the sort, I’m saying that at least half of them are taking advantage of do-gooders who would believe the sun rose in the west if told enough times.

            I’m saying that you are part of the gullible compassion driven group who are willing to believe anything to show how much you care. The same group who like to lecture the rest of us on every subject under the sun.

            If you believe that life is better in the USA then you should have a read of the Huffington Post report that 2/3rds of Detroit are in real poverty. Then compare the people visiting our foodbanks and theirs!

          • pointlesswasteoftime

            I don’t need to show you how much I care. What I need to show is the argument why I believe you are wrong.

            Am I gullible? Maybe – but then I generally only talk about things of which I have direct experience and observation and most people accuse me of being cynical. “Compassion driven”, well, yes, thank you.

            I don’t talk whereof I do not know so I don’t “lecture the rest of (you) on every subject under the sun.”

            Finally, having experienced life in the USA = albeit some time ago – I have no doubt that real poverty exists there too. It is a disgusting a concept there as it is here, but in general, if you’re not black, your standard of living is better than it is here (or if equal, it’s certainly cheaper).

            Have a nice Sunday.

          • Wessex Man

            Did you check out the Huffingrton Post report, I don’t expect you did, it wouldn’t ‘fit’ would it!

  • GraveDave

    I found the site during my early morning trawl of the internet looking for people less fortunate than myself. I find it difficult to start the day without a good gloat

    Oh you are awful…

  • maurice12brady

    When you’re good — You’re brilliant! When you’re bad — You produce articles like this. Apart from the Sappho ingénue reference — spot on — the notion that Dave is anything but a HUGE TIT — is risible! Only those immorally detached (plus the PC brigade) will have failed to notice his constant invocation of his deceased infant.

    • Wessex Man

      you sad piece of work.

      • maurice12brady

        Your command of imaginative composition & a singular
        lack of Basic English prose is on display in your generally ineffective posts — keep up the good work

  • JSC

    It’s a sad fact (and one not addressed by the left) that for some people even if you gave them an extra £5000 in benefits every month the only thing that it would “improve” is the amount of smack they consume, and they’d still be hungry come the end of the month. And it’s not just junkies that are like this either, I know a couple of people (unemployed) that frequently spend ~£35-50 every other week on scratch cards.

    The pattern appears to be, spend like there’s no tomorrow then when tomorrow arrives, claim you had no doing in your current predicament. For people like this food banks are the only option – even then, you’re naive if you don’t think that a lot of the food they take is not being sold on for “recreational goods”.

    • eric stove

      You vile pig! It’s sad that you feel more compelled to write about ‘some people’ you’ve read about somewhere, people who I’m sure are extremely happy to be addicted to heroin because remember, addiction is fun and exactly where we all want to be!!

      The patten appears to be you’re another unpleasant person who is quick to join the rest of the mob attacking small percentages of what is actually the truth instead of doing what we can to help.

      • davidofkent

        On the other hand, perhaps JSC does not go around calling people a ‘vile pig’.

        • pointlesswasteoftime

          Being one is better? JSC is remarkably ill-informed. Does he know how many people on benefits also take heroin? Does he know how many people are on benefits because they take heroin? Does he know that heroin is actually a very good appetite suppressant?

          Making crass assumptions using a qualifier “some” (how many/what percentage?) does not disguise the attempt to tar any benefits recipient with a sticky tarry brush. That might provoke an angry backlash and the accusation of being a vile pig.

          • John Lea

            Oh shut up, you pompous idiot, and stop making excuses for lazy feckless wasters.

          • pointlesswasteoftime

            If you are not willing to answer the questions, why bother to but in? Shut up yourself, Mr Cliche.

          • Wessex Man

            it appears to me that you are the one who should take your own advise!

          • pointlesswasteoftime

            Who has asked questions I have not answered? Where did I but In, but to address inconsistencies of argument? Who have I insulted/ used ad hominems against? Seems like your jumping on a bandwagon.

          • Wessex Man

            There’s no room with you and your pals on it!

          • pointlesswasteoftime

            That’s because our’s is smaller.

          • Wessex Man

            no it’s because you want to be seen as saving the world from your armchair!

          • pointlesswasteoftime

            Enough. I don’t “want to be seen as saving the world from (my) armchair”. I go out and volunteer for organisations I support. I practise what I preach. I “get my hands dirty” (poor metaphor, but you get what I mean, I’m sure). Not that any of that is any of your business.

            I use Disqus to debate with people like you who, frankly, I should know better than to engage with… but I’m polite enough to respond when challenged. That’s the price of good manners I suppose, having to remain calm and still treat those like you with dignity and respect when you do all you can to show you don’t deserve it.

          • Wessex Man

            You’ve never had to treat ‘those like me with diginity and respect’ because people like me have never asked you to.

            My irritation with people like you is that you love to preach to people but never get your hands dirty doing real relief work!

          • pointlesswasteoftime

            “because people like me have never asked you to.”… you have to ask for it? It doesn’t come naturally to do it anyway?

            And re your last sentence… did you actually read my reply?

            Off now, good luck.

          • Wessex Man

            I haver respect for more of the people on these blogs and would hope they would treat me wityh equal respect- you I don’t and I don’t give a monkey’s if you have no respect for me!

          • Chris Morriss

            Not “the poor tax” but “the idiot tax”. Get it right!

          • Airey Belvoir

            The lottery is a tax on stupidity, but the odd ticket buys hope. The way to get value is not to check it for a month or two.

          • pointlesswasteoftime

            I saw the graffiti. Were you there too?

          • susie24

            well said, there are some on here whose main attribute seems to be selfish ignorance, John being a prime example.

          • pointlesswasteoftime

            Thank you.

          • Wessex Man

            Theres some on here like you two who have no idea of the real world, I bet you’ve never seen real poverty in your gilded lives!

          • pointlesswasteoftime

            FTFO. You know nothing of my life. Make all the assumptions you want but you won’t get anywhere near the reality. Another phart who resorts to cliches and stereotypes. Lazy, lazy, lazy. And dull.

          • Wessex Man

            You are the fool resorting to assumptions, you also know nothing of my life, I’ve seen real suffering, pain and death and most of the wasters who use food banks here are not in poverty! Just too bone lazy to change their lives!

          • pointlesswasteoftime

            Because everybody is the same, aren’t they and everybody has had the same experience and everybody should be just like you. Are any of these statements correct?

            There are 900,000 reasons why 900,000 food parcels have been handed out by the Trussell Trust this year, but to you they are just one “bone lazy” blob. You may have seen a lot of tragedy but you seem not to see it in others’ lives.

            http://www.trusselltrust.org/foodbank-figures-top-900000

          • Wessex Man

            divide that by half and I might start to agree with you.

          • pointlesswasteoftime

            Is that a form of progress?

          • Wessex Man

            Only if you agree that at least half who ‘use’ foodbanks are conning the people running them!

          • pointlesswasteoftime

            That’s a “No” then.

          • Wessex Man

            You are well named.

          • pointlesswasteoftime

            As your responses to me amply prove. Toodle pip.

        • Joseph Narcisse Bouche’

          I think Eric Stove was being satirical.

      • MaSek12

        Why this uncalled for vulgarity? Reasoned argument only please.

        • susie24

          I haven’t read much “reasoned” argument on here at all.

      • global city

        Didn’t you get the memo? these people are no longer the sainted heroes of the New Left….. they despise them.

      • JSC

        To clarify, I didn’t say I was happy with the state of affairs or the poor living conditions of said people. My point was that just throwing cash at these people will not fix anything because their problems are (to a degree) of their own making and are made worse by them having more cash available to spend on their problems.

    • Daniel Jeyn

      I don’t think you will find many heroin addicts who have adiposity. If anything, the only persons who can as a group said to exhibit malnutrition in Western countries are smack addicts. Obesity seems to be something visited upon persons afflicted with depression more than anything.

      • susie24

        Daniel, very true. Also poor diet as in lack of fresh fruit and veg doesn’t help. A bag of chips from the chippy is cheaper than having to buy and cook fresh food.

        • Wessex Man

          I’ll remind the fat cow who buys her sausage rolls by the half dozen at a time at the village shop everyday of every week and has never worked a day in her life next time I see her that a bag of chips are cheaper. then agian maybe not I’ll get a faceful of pastry flaked abuse thrown at me.

          Please advise Polly my course of action.

          • Old Nick

            Buy her a cup of coffee and sit down and listen to her story

          • Wessex Man

            Her story, she never married, never got a job travels from here to Bath, Chippenham and Trowbridge with bus passes every day, had a baby who is now looked after by her sister.

            You want to sit down with her and listen to her story do so but wear a mask!

  • Guy Lambert

    I can only assume you are the sort of man who looks at pictures of starving children in Africa and says: “Look at their tummies – they’re huge, they can’t be starving”. It is (should you ever bother to actually do any research) a well know fact that malnutrition actually causes swelling and weight gain, as this quote from a BBC News article states. It’s from a girl who has been forced to live in a YMCA and use food banks: “”I’ve gained loads of weight since I’ve lived in the YMCA because when I’m not eating my body stores the fat and makes me fatter. And then when I am eating, it’s just stuff like rice and cheap stodgy stuff. You can’t afford to eat nicely,” she says.” Try actually doing some research into this before you trot out your ignorant garbage onto the internet or anywhere else.

    • EricHobsbawmtwit

      Finding a strategy for coping with life is the only way if you suffer from a mental illness, as many of these people do. It’s just a fact that there’s no penicillin to “fix” a brain.

      But the real problem here is where the bureaucracy, setting rules across broad swathes of the population, comes into contact with the individual. There’s really no solution to this. Nobody else can give her a life. She has to go out and make one.

    • Mr Grumpy

      “I can only assume” – well, that tells us only that you see the world in moralistic stereotypes.

      Have you ever seen photos of poor people from Victorian times or the 1930s? Many of them obese?

      • Penny

        I would think the difference between now and Victorian times or the 1930’s lies in the foodstuffs available at the time and their price. People of those past generations were limited to the stuff we class today as being good for us – the usual meat, fish, eggs, veg etc. which might have limited their buying ability. Pasta, rice and the vast variety of carb-laden stuff simply wasn’t commonplace – now it is. I would think it’s the introduction of these cheap foods that contribute to obesity among those who have little money.

        • Mr Grumpy

          I think you’re describing the Victorian middle class diet. Poor people couldn’t afford decent food in even moderate quantities.

          • Penny

            Yes, I am. That’s what I meant when I wrote “which might have limited their buying abilities”. Poor folk couldn’t afford them and they didn’t have the dizzying array of cheaper stuff commonplace in today’s supermarkets so it was no wonder they were ill-nourished and thin.

            Perhaps also a number of commonplace practices no longer exist. For example, I know from relatives’ stories of their own less-than-wealthy upbringing or of the war years, that butchers sold the bones which formed the basics of a broth. People could buy a “twist” of tea or sugar. Things today aren’t always sold in such small quantities.

            Today, I would say that we do have a vast array of cheap foods available, but so many of them are carb-loaded which increases obesity but may still result in poor nourishment

          • Mr Grumpy

            You’ve made a better job than me of refuting the “poverty makes you fat” thesis.

          • Guy Lambert

            Of course not EVERYONE who is poor is fat, it affects different people in different ways. As has been pointed out above, cheap food is often bad for you so is likely to result in obesity far more than the ‘real’ food of Victorian times. Consumption of alcohol etc is also more widespread than it would’ve been back then. And before you scream “my taxes are paying for people to get drunk, that’s a luxury, how outrageous!”, it’s worth pointing out that alcohol is often used to dull the pain of depression which can follow the poverty associated with food banks.

            Hopefully that’s clarified a few things you could’ve Googled, rather than your obvious Googling of ‘Victorian poor fat people photos’ to support Rod’s offensive drivel

          • Damaris Tighe

            White sliced bread for example. Many brands so loaded with sugar that they taste like brioche or cake. As well as unhealthy try eating this stuff with a savoury filling such as tuna or marmite. Ugh!

          • Penny

            Yes, I’m quite interested in nutrition (not obsessively so, mind!) and I’ve noticed just how much sugar is added to all kinds of stuff. Mostly it’s carb-type food but I’ve also found that low fat food often contains more sugar than its normal version.

          • Damaris Tighe

            Absolutely right – & more salt if it’s savoury. They have to because the flavour is in the fat. These so called ‘healthy’ alternatives are a con. I avoid low fat products like the plague. Just go easy on normal fatty foods, & enjoy them as well!

  • vanLomborg

    Fat chance you are ever going to see me in one of those banks.
    I shall continue to commit myself to eating cake for what it’s worth.
    £1 apple and rhubarb pies are available 24/7/365 in Britain’s supermarkets.

  • Swanky

    My goodness, Rod, you need to get with the times on the ‘obese-people-overeat’ front. Poverty and obesity have gone hand in hand for many a long year. To find out why, please do read Gary Taubes, Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It. If you’re a real bluestocking, you can also read his Good Calories, Bad Calories to reinforce the message (though it’s the older publication), and Nina Teicholz’s less ambitious and narrower effort, The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong In A Healthy Diet. But if you have to choose, choose Taubes. All will be revealed!

    Update: If you don’t have time for that, watch this:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5W0eAhrO-8&list=FLJPtX6xe7JK6JZvSSX7GZ3w&index=8

    • Samson

      It’s no use talking about facts, they don’t meet the criteria of his prejudices.

  • Andrew Smith

    Baroness Jenkin hit the nail on the head when she said that the poor should cook for themselves rather than buy ready-made meals which were both bad for you and more expensive. Unfortunately, as with everyone else found to be telling the truth, she was pilloried at forced to apologize.

    As the commentator below also pointed out, the overweight poor could do more to help themselves; unfortunately we seem to live in a culture in which the only help deemed to be “good” comes from a government agency staffed by Social Policy graduates who cost the tax payer an awful lot of money.

    • Swanky

      Ready-made meals are not necessarily ‘bad’ for anyone. It depends what sort of ready-made they are. Some ready-made Indian dinners, for instance, don’t come with white rice. There’s nothing wrong with them: they have healthy fats and proteins and you can add spinach, cauliflower, lettuce or cucumber to the dish with almost no effort.

      Do we always have to throw the baby out with the water?

      • The Master

        I’m afraid that today’s “debate” culture has the pavements strewn with babies, long after the bath water has drained away. And yes, some ready-meals are excellent. It’s horses (certainly as Tesco constructs them) for courses.

      • Damaris Tighe

        There’s a difference between ‘ready made’ as in chilled supermarket meals, which can be nutritious, & takeaways which are usually high in fat & carbs. Both are expensive, but takeaways are even more expensive than chilled. I don’t understand why someone on benefits who isn’t able/willing to cook, will choose a takeaway rather than chilled. The latter although expensive is still the cheaper option.

        • Swanky

          It could be that America is different. For instance, I can get a Chik-Fil-A takeway salad that is above reproach and is as good value as anything else one can buy. Even the sandwiches are fine if one only eats half the bun and/or doesn’t slather it with ketchup.

          • Damaris Tighe

            Yes, I think America is different. Most takeaways I’m aware of, certainly in the town I mentioned in my other post, specialise in stuff like pizza & doner kebab.

          • AJH1968

            The Donner kebab doesn’t sound too good. On another note I make my own stock and freeze it into ice cubes and at Christmas time I usually prepare parboiled potatoes sprinkle them with flour and fry them in duck fat with rosemary.

          • Damaris Tighe

            Yum.

          • Wessex Man

            come on please tell me you are just winding them up!

        • AJH1968

          A bolognese can be made in less than an hour and with relatively cheap ingredients (except the perhaps the parmagiano-reggiano essential in my opinion). As you say evreything in moderation perhaps the underclasses are just to (god forbid) lazy to cook, and the ease of cheap takeaways beckons seductively.

          • Damaris Tighe

            Well, it looks like it in my area. Although spag bol isn’t exactly low calorie – but darn all that! Grana padano is a decent cheaper replacement for parmagiano-reggiano.

          • AJH1968

            I often freeze my bolognese and sometimes use cauliflower mash to make shepards pie, or I use zuccini to make faux pasta. I think I wondered off topic though (not sure about my spelling) and you are right about Grand padano, lovely with pears.

          • Damaris Tighe

            Wow, you sound like quite a committed cook! I think I’d miss potato mash on shepherd’s pie though …Here’s the secret of an authentic tasting spag bol (or coq au vin or boeuf bourgignon) – add a good teaspoon of bovril or crumble in one bovril cube, but this only works if you also use red wine (& not too much tomato in spag bol). I know it sounds naff, but try it.

            Yes, we’ve wandered off food banks, but it’s still relevant to cheap, tasty food.

          • Swanky

            But is that old-time Bovril — which still had actual beef product in it, whatever that was — or new Bovril, which I won’t touch because it’s entirely ersatz and beef-free?

          • Damaris Tighe

            You got me in a panic there but the jar I use says ‘the original beef extract’. I got the tip years ago from a recipe book which said that Bovril is a good alternative to the beef reduction the French use in the dishes I mentioned. Maybe the ersarz stuff (horror) is just the cubes?

          • Swanky

            Hmm. I’ve never used the cubes. Last time I looked at a jar — on either side of the Atlantic — there was no longer any actual beef ingredient, presumably because the then-recent foot-and-mouth breakout had caused the change. Perhaps they’ve changed it back. I do hope so!

          • Damaris Tighe

            I think so – relevant ingredients on jar are 41% beef stock, 24% yeast extract, 1% dehydrated beef. Phew!

          • Swanky

            I shall have to look into this! I only ever see Marmite over here but perhaps my mum can send me a jar.

          • Damaris Tighe

            Add it to your beouf bourgignon, coq au vin & spag bol (if red wine used) & you’ll never look back Swanky!

          • Swanky

            Titter. I’ve just checked Wikipedia, and sure enough, they changed the recipe in 2004 to make it just a yeast extract, and reportedly claimed that “in blind taste tests, 10% didn’t notice any difference in taste, 40% preferred the original and 50% preferred the new product”.

            I can’t for the life of me see how anyone could fail to taste the difference, let alone prefer the non-beef version! Weird. Anyway, Bovril Is Back, and I thank you Damaris for telling me.

          • Kevin Murphy

            I’d have thought freezing your bolognese might lead to long-term fertility problems?

          • AJH1968

            You have just ruined a keyboard (I spat out my tea all over it after reading your comment), very funny, sincerely.

          • Wessex Man

            That’s why the birthrate has gone down.

          • Wessex Man

            PLEASE!

          • Damaris Tighe

            Oh I know it sounds a bit poncy, but don’t you like the occasional spag bol & having the right cheese (especially a cheaper option) makes it perfect! I do love bacon sarnies as well you know.

          • Wessex Man

            but you are only encourging these pratful parthetic do-gooders who wouldn’t know a real person in need if they walked by them!

          • Damaris Tighe

            The convo degenerated a bit into personal cooking tips (which is always fun) – I don’t think any wider advice was intended.

    • red2black

      When the poor cook for themselves, they have to use gas, electricity and water – all of which cost money. It’s not an exaggeration to say that many poorer people have to ‘choose between eat and heat’. In many cases poverty is either long-term or lifelong. As for the food poorer people eat, it’s often ‘microwaveable’ (not necessarily a bad option) because that’s the cheapest way to get hot food, and the food itself is invariably the cheapest.
      It is possible to eat well on a low budget, but to maintain it, other than in the short term, is extremely difficult when the other consequences of poverty are taken into account. Some people do need to be helped by others in order for them to be able to help themselves. As someone said ‘It’s easy to be reasonable when you’re living a comfortable life’. I’d suggest it’s just as easy to be unreasonable as well.

      • davidofkent

        Of course, some people will always need to rely upon others because, for one reason or another, life is just too difficult for them to manage. In fact, the Welfare State was created to do just that. Sadly, that changed when welfare became available to anybody based on (perceived) need. As the writer points out, there is precious little evidence that the people at food banks are suffering from a lack of food. Under the present situation, providing shelter for oneself and then food to eat do not come at the top of some individuals’ life priorities.

        • red2black

          I agree with you. There is also precious little evidence that people using food banks aren’t suffering from a lack of food.

          • Old Nick

            Have you talked to many of them ?

          • red2black

            What for? There’s little evidence to support either view. If you can present some, please do.

          • red2black

            No, not a single one. People who cheat food banks should not be allowed to sabotage social provision that others are dependent on.

      • global city

        For many years this was a bollux statement…..but the new Left’s green energy madness has finally made it truth.

    • Shorne

      I don’t understand why so many right wingers get so worked up about food banks, they don’t come out of their Holy Grail, ‘Tax payers’ money’, and if you don’t have to go to one then you are unaffected by them. I can only assume it is because their existence implies that maybe their cosy, self-satisfied World view may not be correct.
      Likewise the myth that every food bank customer is a feckless drug addict provides an apparent excuse for those who don’t want to donate to them.
      The Trussell Trust calculate that 913,138 people were assisted by them from April 2013 to March 2014, 330,205 of these were children. As for home cooking being the solution one of the effects of poverty that goes with not having any food is having your power cut off, the CAB reports that this happens to 1.62 million people every year and even food banks can’t help them but takeaways come ready cooked.
      As I have stated before I was a Probation Officer for 30 years and many was the time when I was on Court Duty decent Magistrates would ask me to ‘have a word’ with defendants (usually women) with no previous convictions who were up for shoplifting. The reasons turned out to be, benefits failed to arrive, abusive partners who took all their money, extra expense due to having to feed children during school holidays etc.There weren’t any food banks then, I wish to God there had been.

      • Wessex Man

        What does that have to do with the queues of women get their food walking around the corner and someyimes not even around the corner and jumping into their cars.

        There’s far too much ‘pretend’ poverty in this country!

        • Shorne

          Evidence?

          • Wessex Man

            ITV Local News cameras filming them!

          • Shorne

            When? where? provide a link.

  • Bill_der_Berg

    Justin Welby did not say that poverty in the UK was worse than in Africa, he said that he was more shocked by the former. He was just being honest ; most of us react more strongly to events on our own doorstep. A terrorist attack in our own cities disturb far more than similar attacks than Baghdad that cause far greater carnage.

    • Mr Grumpy

      I think Rod’s point is that his reaction suggests he hasn’t seen very much African poverty at first hand.

      • Bill_der_Berg

        Point taken, but few of us have encountered African poverty at first hand yet most of us know that it is far worse than poverty in western countries. I am pretty sure that Justin Welby does.

        It could be that the Archbishop finds reliance of food handouts to be particularly offensive in a land of plenty.

  • cartimandua

    Perhaps we need more jolly “free” meal provisions including a soup and salad course.
    A lot of people don’t live in a situation where cooking and food prep is possible.
    Soup kitchens are thought to be for dossers.
    What about handing out meal vouchers and providing proper meals? With Mums and kids it could be a cooking lesson AND then eating the results.
    Tack such an activity onto the end of the school day.

    • davidofkent

      Poor old schools again. How about asking people to learn to be responsible for themselves. Cooking lessons, indeed! How difficult is it to boil some vegetables, boil an egg or make some toast?

      • red2black

        The cooking part may be easy, but paying the bills for electricity, gas and water certainly isn’t for a lot of people.

  • Diggery Whiggery

    Can someone enlighten me as to what checks exist to make sure that those who say they need free for, really need free food?

    • red2black
      • Diggery Whiggery

        So none, just as I thought.

        • red2black

          Apologies for the bad link.
          I copied what’s below from the site:-
          ‘Why would someone need to use a food bank?
          There are a startlingly high number of reasons that somebody would need to use a food bank to feed themselves and their family, including:
          •Wage freezes and low incomes in general, making it hard to cope with the rising cost of living.
          •Work hours being cut.
          •Unexpected costs – such as an unexpectedly high bill.
          •Losing their job.
          •Losing benefits, or benefits being paid late.
          •Being unable to work due to sickness, disability or mental illness.
          •Divorce.
          •Debt problems.’

          • Diggery Whiggery

            Thanks, but that does not answer my question.

            To clarify, when someone goes to say the CAB to ask for a food bank voucher due to need. What checks are carried out to make sure that that need actually exists?

          • red2black

            I think you’d have to visit a CAB to find out.

          • sami

            If sanctioned, the DWP provide a letter, stating the length of time of the sanction. This qualifies as proof of hardship and enables a person to visit a food bank.

          • red2black

            Thanks for your reply. Hopefully Diggery Whiggery will read it as well.

          • somewhereinthesouth

            I agree with the above but in some [ may be quite few] cases you can also add
            the following to the list :
            Not managing your budget well. Never saving in the good times
            Indulging your kids with designer clothes/parties and too many toys/mobile phones etc.
            Not cooking from scratch
            Smoking fags
            Drinking booze
            Having kids when you can afford to
            Seeing Sky TV as an essential

          • red2black

            Some of which are educational, such as money management and what used to be called ‘deferred gratification’. Cooking from scratch uses gas, electricity and water, which also have to be paid for; hence the ‘preference’ for microwave ovens. ‘Booze and fags’ often become addictive, but ‘take the rough edge off things’ for a lot of people. History shows that the ancient form of contraception you suggest is ineffective. Sky TV presents itself as being something essential. I agree with your list in so far as it’s applicable in some cases, but certainly not all. Poor people aren’t ‘all the same’, and stereotyping that suggests they are needs to be challenged.

          • somewhereinthesouth

            I agree that not all poor people are the same and nor are the poor they unnecessarily to blame for their circumstances e.g. illness or disability. It is also the case that sometimes poverty results from decisions or reckless actions taken many years [even decades] previously such as bunking off school etc. which as result has reduced a persons earning capacity and makes it difficult to get a reasonably well paid job as a result. Where such people are willing to train for new skills everything should be done to assist them . In my view the state’s role should be to provide temporary relief and to assist people to be independent and also to be able to help themselves in the first instance. Benefits should[ in most cases] not be for life but for temporary assistance or to enable independence to be achieved.The present system doesn’t always achieve this. There is no doubt that there is a substantial minority who might benefit from a change in lifestyle or a change in attitude to their circumstances – however you can lead a horse to water. Obviously there are many people on low incomes or indeed in poverty who are responsible in their behaviour and do everything to rise above it.

    • sami

      Usually it will be as a result of targeted Sanctions in Benefit, I was sanctioned, so went to my local Law Centre for advice. I was given a referral from them to a local food bank. It can only be used three times. Generally it is not possible to receive from a food bank unless you have a referral from some organisation. We all need food, regardless of whether it is free or not. If I were hungry and had no referral, I would attempt to steal food, with no guilt. It is a basic human need.

      • Diggery Whiggery

        Of course we all need food. However, we don’t all need it to be free.

        I’m just interested in the kind of checks that a GP for example would carry out. I would be highly surprised if he asked for accounts etc. I’m not saying there aren’t people who genuinely need food banks. However, when anything is given away for free you will always get people who don’t really need it but ask for it anyway. Unfortunately that is human nature.

        I understand that a referral is needed. What interests me is how easy or difficult is it to get that referral. Would someone who spends £150-£200 on cigarettes and alcohol per month get a referral for example, because that would show a need not born out of a lack of means but out of a lack of priorities?

        • red2black

          Ask your own GP. I’m sure a CAB or DWP office would be able to answer your questions about other things you’ve mentioned.

        • Old Nick

          You could try volunteering at a Food Bank and then listen to people telling you their own stories.

          • Diggery Whiggery

            I could, but it wouldn’t answer my question.

    • Sascha616

      Don’t know about others, but I had to give the CAB six months of my full accounts (I’m disabled part time self employed, don’t get DLA, (or PIP or whatever it’s called now) do pay council tax, don’t get housing benefit or any other benefit apart from a few quid Disabled Tax Credits) and proof that the DWP had refused to give my OH any benefits when he lost his job as I was £1.80 over the weekly earning limit with my Tax Credits so had to pay for everything for two people for over a year till my OH was lucky enough to find another job (P/T, no contract, but hey better than no money eh).

      So we ran out of money, ran out of food, was one missed mortgage payment from losing the house. You usually get THREE visits to a food bank full stop for which you need a valid dated signed voucher (that you have to use within 10 days of getting it), it’s not guarantee you’ll get it every week or ever; we got six as we were deemed an urgent, chronic case. So yes, in our case it was pretty strictly monitored before we could get the couple of tins of veg/tins of meat, bottle of dried milk, tea bags or coffee (smart price), bag of cornflakes, packet of biscuits, bag of rice and a loo roll that you get. Sometime you can choose a tube of toothpaste or a deodorant as your luxury item,if they have any in. Kept us from starving and we were glad to get it.

      • Diggery Whiggery

        I’m not asking for details of people’s circumstances. I’m not saying either that there aren’t people who don’t really need food banks. However, free things often attract people who don’t need them but ask for them because they’re free, so having an idea on what checks are in place is crucial.

        Trussell Trust volunteers have previously admitted that there are people who do take advantage of the system and who bounce around different locations to get more vouchers.

        You say you were asked for accounts etc. and that’s fine, but I find it hard to believe that every GP would do that for example. Faced with a patient asking for a voucher but who spends a large sum of money on cigarettes and alcohol, would the GP say no, maybe but let’s see your accounts, or just hand over the voucher to avoid any aggro and looking like a heartless bastard? I reckon quite few might do the latter and I wouldn’t blame them if they did.

        • Sascha616

          As I said, I don’t know about others, and there are always those who will try and fleece a system. Cannot help but agree that a GP perhaps is not the best person to do a referral to a food bank, as many of them don’t even know they can do that or they don’t know the system, having not ever had to use it themselves. The figures are very low for GP referrals however, maybe 16%, the rest are DWP or CAB referrals for which they do want to know your full income details.

          • Sascha616

            Also am aware of anecdotal evidence being a weak premise for a counter. But I was not the only one there with a CAB voucher when we went, and I have friends in Social Care who would confirm to a large extent my experience.

  • laurence

    Rod, I had until the other week lived happily unaware of the existence of Ms Jack Monroe. When I sought an example of the idiotic, dogmatic, hypocritical and sanctimonious, I reached for the usual suspects like George Galloway, Laurie Penny, LibDems, Russell Brand. Ms Monroe seems determined to force her way into their ghastly company by rattling out off-the-shelf leftist-by-numbers word piffle. And yes, those poor souls who cannot afford to feed themselves are sure to be bloomin’ chuffed at a recipe for kale feckin’ pesto. Is that with or without Pecorino?

  • pointlesswasteoftime

    You talk complete bull. What’s wrong with recipes of kale pesto for poor people if they are cheap? You are saying poor people only want fry ups? And then you wonder why some poor people may be fat? I bet you’re also one of those who whine on about how socialists dampen the aspirations of the poor/working classes. Well, let’s confine their eating choices shall we? They wouldn’t know what to do with pesto anyway? Stereotypes R Us, brought to you by Rod Liddle.

    • somewhereinthesouth

      Many can’t or don’t want to cook or even don’t have much time..Much easier to fry a burger, egg or bake a cheap pizza or even go to the chippy. Having said that fresh veg is expensive and doesn’t keep well. Nevertheless Kale pesto doesn’t sound like it would be especially cheap or even appetising [ or easy to find in many local supermarkets]. I doubt even Nigella has a recipe for it.

      • pointlesswasteoftime

        And that’s a reason why someone should not provide a recipe for those who DO want to cook? And it is cheap – £1- £1.50 for about 200 grams. Cheaper than basil. Stocked in Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s… can be wilted like spincach or eaten as “greens”.

        My local chippy is £2 for a bag of chips – and they’re horrible. Fish is an extra £6- £7. Compare with a £1 bag of pasta, home-made pesto, a 65p tin of sardines and some cream cheese.

  • James Conan

    Supreme dishonesty here. Perhaps the fact that the only pictures involving foodbanks that you found contained fat people was because this was an anomaly?
    What’s your point? That because a few frauds turn up to the foodbank the idea of undernourished people having to resort to charity is discredited?
    Well, so long as you cover the government’s back.
    You and your selection bias must be relieved at having discovered those pictures.

    • Moderator

      Walk into any poor people shops like Asda, Primark, B&M, every pound shop, Aldi etc and most adults will be obese. Thin poor people are very very rare. The majority of food bank users are overweight men with a variety of problems: alcoholism, drug abuse, mental heath issues and innumeracy.

      • balance_and_reason

        victims of the socialist welfare state, its not your fault and don’t forget your rights.

        • red2black

          That’s what they told the bankers a few years ago when they had to be bailed out and nationalised, but still got to keep their salaries and bonuses.

          • balance_and_reason

            Typical socialist exaggeration….over 130 banks in the city…how many got bailed out and nationalised?..further how much tax have the banks paid to the country (including the recent fines which are essentially a tax)…??

          • red2black

            The exaggeration was mine; much as happens at the other end of the scale when it’s the poorest among us who are being discussed. The system we live under guarantees that some form of ‘welfare’, be it state, charitable or whatever, is very necessary. If that’s considered ‘socialist’, then so be it. Even so, there seems to be plenty of support for social provision across the political board.

          • balance_and_reason

            Nobody is saying there should be no provision or safety net.
            What we are saying is it should not be paid to 50% of the population to gerrymander votes.
            It should not be structured to effectively imprison people on benefits , also to gerrymander votes.
            Poverty statistics should not be manipulated for political purposes…distorted and exaggerated as that helps no one and undermines provision to those who truly need it.

            But hey!…what the f”ck else can Labour use to get in…they have nothing to offer…a bankrupt ideology.

          • red2black

            All political parties use statistics and all the rest of it to suit their own purposes; cherry-picking particular ‘facts’ but ignoring others that don’t support their respective agendas. I agree with you about exaggeration and distortion, but that’s not a monopoly controlled by people that either you or I disagree with. We usually end up with some sort of compromise, or ‘fudge’ if you prefer, but perhaps that’s not such a bad thing.

          • balance_and_reason

            Yes if everybody is seriously trying to achieve the best for the country and its inhabitants…I really query the decisions and actions, or lack of actions of the last Labour regime; their results are not explicable in terms of bona fide do gooders…..they are explicable as the actions of a political party solely focused on returning itself to power at any cost.

      • somewhereinthesouth

        These people are as much victims of a society which has abandoned values such as personal responsibility for your actions , personal charity, shame , the work ethic, diligence and aspiration in favour of divorce , instant gratification [ sex, booze/tv/drugs/fags] plus benefits for all if you fail or don’t even bother in the first place. If you have failed or are struggling these days YOU are never responsible its a combination of some one else actions or lack of them , the economic system, prejudice , poverty, the government , the rich etc..whilst in many case I am sure these things haven’t helped I can’t help feeling that many just don’t make enough effort to rise above their problems and prefer the easy way out – benefits, alcohol etc..

      • Old Nick

        What you say was approximately true in about 2008. Since then the numbers have gone up exponentially and many of those who come in are normal decent families down on their luck – often having recently lost the breadwinner’s job – and very often with delays in getting their benefits.

  • AJAX

    Why are so many national newspaper journalists so massively overpaid when their profession is falling apart & newspaper sales are in decline Liddle, think about that before having a pop at people who haven’t got 2 brass farthings to rub together.

  • MaSek12

    Food banks, like the dole and the other ‘benefits’ given to the unemployable, are a form of charity that is proving daily more poisonous. These ‘benefits’ remove the will to work, cause people to breed like rats, attract toxic immigrants, cost the working people billions, cause the curse of our era – the single ‘mum’ and have removed all the interest in getting qualifications for a good job.
    The SS Great Britain is sinking under the dead weight.

  • Rhys

    Do the customers of Food Banks collect a basket at the entrance and go round the place choosing what they want? The only difference to the ‘regular’ supermarket being, there’s no queue at the checkout?

    • MaSek12

      Things are different ‘from’ not ‘to’ or ‘than’. Stop watching Oprah and reading penny dreadfuls..

      • Rhys

        Who’s “Oprah” and what’s a “penny dreadful”?

        • pointlesswasteoftime

          Google.

          • Rhys

            What’s “Google” ?

          • pointlesswasteoftime

            It;s an internet tool to help you educate yourself. You know how to use the internet. You write here. Have fun!

    • Sascha616

      No you sit on a plastic chair with a cup of tea and biscuit that they are kind enough to provide for free while they go out the back and fill TWO shopping bags with things on their lists to give per person. They can’t give more than that. You don’t choose what you are given. It’s supposed to last up to a week.

  • Lydia Robinson

    I went through a period of poverty in the seventies and even though I was in work, found it difficult to make ends meet and have enough for food. I simply bought a cheap book with vegetarian menus and was able to provide nourishing food for myself, my son and temporarily jobless husband. Our parents did that too. Nobody gave any of us a hand out or even felt sorry for us.

    • GraveDave

      Me too – in the Eighties. You bought a little book of vegetarian meals. I went shoplifting in Sainsbury’s. Good food cost less when it’s nicked.

  • Fraser Bailey

    Just another day in Liddle Britain.

  • Alan Forster

    Rod Liddle, this article does not require a reasoned and logical rebuttal. You are an arsehole pure and simple.

    • rodliddle

      A pure arsehole? Not sure about that, thicko.

      • Wessex Man

        Arn’t you pleased to see the reasonable sensible people you attract?

  • artemis in france

    Your comment about the minimum wage is spot on. The rising différence between high earners and low earners in Britain is a disgrâce. I am not anticapitalist at all but believe that all those who earn and pay tax should be able to share in its benefits, not just those at the very top of society (this includes cabinet ministers, quango members et al) who have a hugely disproportionate share of the bounty. Corporatism is taking over Britain in a nasty way and most people are being left behind. Zero hours contracts may suit the young and fancy-free but are a dreadful solution to the employment needs of anybody who has regular financial commitments, or, heaven forbid, a family to feed. While the government continues to keep normal people in penury even when they are working long hours, they are in a difficult position vis a vis food banks. I agree that there is a lot of abuse of thèse well-intentioned places but possibly some folk are justified in using them. Raise the minimum wage and there will be fewer excuses for people to use them. Certainly those manning thèse places should be much more careful about their “customers” and their actual need. Fat people must be suspect, despite all the nonsense spouted about fattening food being cheaper than healthy food. Just an excuse for laziness.

  • Samson

    And Jesus said to the five thousand, “the tabloid yobs of this good Christian nation have informed me that you all have chosen to be poor because you enjoy it and are in fact drug taking, booze swilling, morbidly obese liars every one. I have heard the facts about low wages and astronomical living costs, and am unmoved. You should all have been socially mobile and become managers or journalists and then your scum children would not be in such a state. Please, by all means take a piece of bread and fish, you dirty scutters.”
    And then he said to the upper-middle class, “don’t give to the poor, become as wealthy as you possibly can at all costs, even unto the destruction of the world’s economy, for it is harder for an elephant to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a scum bag on minimum wage to enter the kingdom of heaven.”
    Praise our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

    • whs1954

      Grow up. You talk about low wages, but food banks did not exist until three or four years ago, and now apparently one million people use them. So are you telling me poverty didn’t exist until four years ago? (that would be convenient – just the time the nasty evil baby eating Tories got into government and started starving the poor, I suppose). Yet there seem to be more Nike trainers and iPhones about than ever before. I guess we should ignore that and focus on blindly emoting about ‘the poor’.

      • somewhereinthesouth

        Quite the poor have always been with us [ and years ago they had to make do with far less ].

      • Sascha616

        Quite, but they’ve been with us in their current form for over a decade. In the past we had ‘alms’ too, for hundreds of years. Don’t know about trainers but you can get an iPhone 4S on a £10 a month phone contract (I know, I have one, for work.) Without a mobile phone, you can’t get work as all employers contact you via mobile or email not letter now. I work but my OH lost his job and without his PAYG mobile he would not have ended up back in work now, as the agency he signed up with would have had no way to contact him for it.

  • Mila Shennsey

    dont feed the trollumnist

  • cambridgeelephant

    Once again Rod nails it.

    Food banks are a joke in a country that has just seen the world’s fattest man – I thought the Yanks could claim that one, surely ? – peg it and has an obesity crisis amongst it’s ever growing couch potato population.

    For thousands of – human – years rich(er) people were fat and poor people thin. Now is modern western countries the roles have often been reversed. Whatever Guardian dipsticks or ecclesiastical buffoons feel to the contrary.

  • Gwangi

    You are being 100% logical, Rod. The thing is, the world is not logical. These days, in the West at least, being fat and especially being obese is a sign of being f a lower social class, less educated and poorer. By contrast, being skeletal is a sign of family wealth and a public school education at Rodean and the Priory anorexic clinic finishing school…

    • somewhereinthesouth

      Its not their fault you see its their upbringing….. or one might say the wrong priorities: Fags booze , fast food and `TV [especially football on Sky.TV]. Mothers who can’t cook…. [ oh no you can’t say that now – it might imply some sort of stigma. -the fact that cookery was dropped at school in favour sex education probably doest help either ]

      • Gwangi

        It starts before birth too. A baby is born with a taste for what its preggers mum has eaten – no doubt deep fried Mars bars in Glasgow… Then its taste is determined by what it is fed in its earliest years. But it was ever thus – why WWII rationing gave the lowest social classes a decent balanced diet.
        btw don’t put too much store on school cookery lessons – my sister did them and she can’t cook a thing! I did woodwork and can’t make anything out of wood either! Most skills for life are learnt outside school – and yes, that means girls learn cooking from their mothers and womenfolk, or should; they do in all ethnic families – Indian, Arab, Greek, Chinese etc. In the UK of course that is seen as a crime against gender equality – end result: most women can’t boil an egg and when they drop a sprog they have no idea how to cook healthy meals (in our ready meal world). Feminism has to share the blame here.

  • Gwangi

    The reason the people who use food banks are all so orca fat is because they are all Scottish. Mystery solved…

  • rtj1211

    Your invitation to upstage Ian Hislop on HIGNFY is doubtless already in the post, Mr Liddle……

  • somewhereinthesouth

    The poverty we have here is the poverty of aspiration , spirituality, poverty of self esteem and education. The welfare state , an admirable creation in many ways has unfortunately bred amongst some a sense of entitlement, selfishness/laziness [or is it hopelessness?] and a lack of personal responsibility. It is these things [ not starvation ] which are the real poverty in our society. Welby should stick to doing the gospel from the pulpit.

    • Wessex Man

      my point exactly, They are poor and in poverty because they are told they are!

  • Anton Duem

    So what if fat people use food banks, fat people need to eat everyday too. They could’ve gotten fat when they working, lost their job and whilst waiting the few weeks for the JA claim to come through found themselves strapped for cash and had to go to a food bank. Thats just one of many possible scenarios. Nobody is claiming people are starving like Africa, Justin welby was merely referring to own his expectations, you know like ‘I expected to see people starving to death in Africa so wasn’t shocked when I did’.

  • Terry Field

    Supply creates its own demand. The is an infinite supply of hard luck cases. How many are genuine?That depends upon your cynicism index.

  • Lina R

    A couple of times this year I’ve thought about using a food bank but in the end just went 2-3 days of missing meals. I’m on a fairly low wage and work inconsistent hours. The real poverty is people on low salaries who are not eligible for any state help.

  • Lina R

    If food banks disappeared tomorrow – some people would genuinely know hunger – but the majority of people are overeating not under, just look at the number of fast food places on any given high street. They’re absolutely bursting with schoolchildren at 4pm, who gives them the money?

  • Nigel Dodds

    Funnily I used your search term and was bombarded with photos of IDS and Gove.

  • global city

    “‘Food banks are a marvellous example of how the best instincts of society can be harnessed into voluntary, grass-roots action to help people who are most in need.”

    That is precisely why there are calls from the Left to nationalise the initiative…they despise collaboration and local innovation, as it removes the veto of their elite.

    • red2black

      Thankfully, privatisation isn’t really an option. It shouldn’t be nationalised either.

      • global city

        I’ve never heard of such a veto ever taking place. I have heard of countless community initiatives being crushed because some local council or other believed that they should ‘control that field’, though.

        • red2black

          The example of Westbrook and the New Era Estate is a prime example of private interests seeking to ‘control that field’ as regards working class peoples’ homes are concerned.
          I wouldn’t support either ‘left’ or ‘right’ in their efforts to control peoples’ lives in an authoritarian or totalitarian way.

  • John Bindon

    In 1955 Somerset Maugham wrote the following about Kingsley Amis’ “Lucky Jim” (which he thought brilliant, to be fair) : “It is a keenly observed…. depiction of the white collar proletariat. They have no manners, and are woefully unable to deal with any social predicament. Their idea of celebration is to go to a public house and drink six beers. They are mean, malicious and envious. Charity, kindliness, generosity are qualities they hold in contempt. They are scum.” Well, old Somerset made it pretty clear what he thought of the poor. Here we are 60 years on and reading some of the posts below he still has plenty of support in his views on the lower orders.

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  • TilyT

    The article seems to be based on 3 or 4 pictures. Unless we know if they are representative the rest of the article is meaningless

    • Whether they are or not, it’s true that the number one health-related problem among Britain’s poorest is obesity. So the premise of the article is sound.

  • Sean L

    We still call women ‘women’; men ‘men’ so why actresses ‘actors’? It’s not as if their parts had been neutered: women playing men, or vice versa. . . By whose decree is gender not to be recognised linguistically in a sphere where in every other respect it is paramount?

    As for minimum wage, seems a good idea but it’s disastrous for youth employment. If you live at home in subsidised housing you’ll still have more disposable income than many of your better paid counterparts paying extortionate private rents. Without context, considered in isolation, minimum wage is a bit of a red herring. Which isn’t to deny that there aren’t people who could and should be paid more. Or others less. . .

  • foxoles

    “Volunteers for a charity that blames welfare cuts for the soaring use of its food banks have admitted that fraudsters routinely ‘take advantage’ of the handouts.

    The Trussell Trust, the UK’s biggest provider of food banks – which highlighted a ‘shocking’ rise in demand for emergency food packages last week – last night pledged to investigate after volunteers were filmed admitting that people could take free food without checks, and that many visitors were asylum-seekers.

    One worker at a bank run by the trust said that people regularly ‘bounce around’ locations to receive more vouchers than they are entitled to.

    A Mail on Sunday investigation has also found inadequate checks on who claims the vouchers, after a reporter obtained three days’ worth of food simply by telling staff at a Citizen’s Advice Bureau – without any proof – that he was unemployed.”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2608606/No-ID-no-checks-vouchers-sob-stories-The-truth-shock-food-bank-claims.html

  • Jim

    Anyone for a bit of generalisation?
    The poor are all fat, lazy, stupid and deserving of poverty. (oh and have a top of the range mobile phone, every last one of them.)
    Everyone else is totally righteous and worked harder than any poor person to achieve success.

    • balance_and_reason

      Maybe we could eat the fat people?

  • CraigET

    Too often I hear the argument that “more people using food banks than ever in this country is proof that people are getting poorer”. While that may be true, an increase in the use of food banks shows one thing and one thing only; people want free food. If you decrease the price of a product you will increase the demand for it.

    If we lived in a society where taking a handout was seen as something to be ashamed of I would say that more food banks were a sign of desperate times, but we don’t we live in an entitlement society. Again I repeat, I’m not saying we aren’t in desperate times, I am simply stating that an increase in the use of food banks is not proof of that in and of itself.

    • red2black

      Of course it’s not proof. Even so, it’s hardly a ringing endorsement of a social. political and economic system that appears to be leaving more and more people ‘on their uppers’.

  • foxoles

    Obesity is the new starvation, hadn’t you heard?!

  • susie24

    Wow, is this abomination of a human being for real? Rod Liddle you need a very large dose of reality shoving down your nasty spew producing throat.

    • Richard

      Isn’t he simply showing us how difficult welfarism is? People who don’t need will take as much as people in need, and so it begs the question: if I can get things for free, why pay for them? That is a disincentive for anybody to work to produce anything.

      What it does show, I think is a need better to control access to food banks, and social welfare in general.

      Of course, you can be grossly overweight and still suffer from malnutrition, but the ingestion of large quantities of low-quality food surely costs a very similar amount to lesser consumption of high-quality food?

      • susie24

        My local chippie sells what is called a “small” portion of chips, actually enough to feed 2, for £1, no preparation, no energy usage. So no, good quality, healthy food does cost more. If you really think that under the IDS regime “welfare” is easy to access then, should you ever need, it you are in for a very rude awakening. The main cause (report by cross party inquiry) of the use of foodbanks is the delay in benefit payments or the sanctions imposed by the DWP. To use a foodbank you need a voucher from either the DWP, citizens’ advice, or hospital and you are usually limited to 3 visits. I am afraid that there is real ignorance amongst the “haves” about what being a “have not” means. There are many families living on poverty wages who do not have ANY spare money so when an unexpected bill hits (you know luxuries like school shoes for the kids or the cooker or fridge breaks) then money for food can be “eaten” up. In this the 6th richest country in the world it is SHAMEFUL that we can neglect our poor to the extent that they cannot afford to eat. Nearly 1 million people used the foodbanks last year of which over 3 hundred thousand were children. Shameful.

        • Sean L

          I don’t understand the notion of *shame* here. I can imagine feeling ashamed if I couldn’t feed myself or my loved ones. But you seem to imputing shame to . . . who exactly? Incidentally, in Kenya where I spend time, being married to a native, no one gets any form of welfare, let alone free food. Like most places – well, practically everywhere outside the Western world. And people really are hungry there. If public welfare is the standard of judgement then surely we ought to feel *pride*, at least by the logic of your lexicon. . . Anyway why not alleviate your shame and feed someone yourself? Unless you don’t really feel shame. In which case why should anyone else? Or is it just a matter of sounding the ‘correct’ opinion, this ‘shame’, as distinct from actually doing something?

          • susie24

            I am ashamed to be part of a society in which there are some who have so much wealth that they couldn’t spend it in a multiple of lifetimes at the same time as there are so many without enough for the basics of life. The accumulation of more and more wealth at the expense of the rest of society is just selfish greed. I am ashamed to be part of a society where so many people cannot recognise the evil of such greed and selfishness or believe such greed and selfishness to be acceptable. I know nothing of Kenya and fail to see the relevance of Kenya’s society compared to the UK. I am talking about the UK. I am not wealthy, I live on a state pension, but I regularly donate to the local foodbanks. I live in an area that is not particularly poor but far from wealthy and there are 4 foodbanks within a 2 mile radius. There is no need for such poverty in this country of mine whilst there is such great wealth.

          • Sean L

            This doesn’t make any sense to me because you can only reasonably judge one country’s welfare system with another’s. Otherwise your standard of judgement is purely ideal, imaginary, *nowhere*: utopian. As it is, this country already has the most generous welfare system on earth, that’s to say the Western world, beyond which there’s no state welfare anyway. Your ‘shame’ is only possible on account of the abundance generated by the system you ostensibly deplore. Even the poorest here live in relative affluence compared to most people on earth, to say nothing of their predecessors here. It’s not practical politics to give people yet more for nothing, because too many will take the mick. Which isn’t to deny that many people aren’t hard done by . . .

          • susie24

            I disagree (surprise!) The welfare system can be judged on several measures.
            EG> Historically, how effective did it used to be? Contrary to tory propaganda there was relatively little abuse. There was a reasonable safety net for both those needing it short term and for those on a long term basis. Now we have claimants having to wait weeks for their first payment, many of whom have nothing or very little to fall back on themselves so they fall into debt straight away. We have disabled waiting months (sometimes 9 or 12) for claims to be processed. We have people being sanctioned for the flimsiest of reasons for a month or more (research into this has shown the DWP has targets for this!) The payment of benefits has not kept up with inflation on any level and when you start from a low base that means very small (70p per week) increases.
            Ethos; The welfare system was set up as a safety net for those “in need” The clue being “in need”. You paid your stamp you got help. Now the safety net has had huge holes hacked into it and many are falling through. Those holes have been deliberately hacked with the express intention of saving money, nothing to do with abuse as the level of abuse was small, and with no insight (or care) as to the consequences to vulnerable people. The idea of looking after those who, for whatever reason, are unable to look after themselves is a fundamental necessity of a caring 21st century society. We are no longer doing that.
            I don’t know about other welfare systems, they are an irrelevance to the people needing help in this country and what is more I don’t need to.
            This toxic government has deliberately whipped up public prejudices against those in need, labelling them skivers and scroungers and I find that abhorrent. There will always be abuse but the abusers usually find a way through and those in real need (the soft touch cases) are the ones to suffer.
            Of course we should never forget that those who caused the financial crises that enabled the tories to come to power are still profiting , the bankers are still getting huge bonuses whilst the poor and vulnerable and ordinary people are expected to pay off the deficit. That is a sick situation.

          • Sean L

            Not really qualified to argue with you on that. Totally with you re the banksters. . .

        • Dusty01

          “Unexpected bill” a £500 car repair a few years ago wiped our my family shopping bill for that month, we were lucky the freezer was stocked up so we only had to starve ourselves of the basics for a month.

          I can only imagine what its like to have nothing in the cupboards with no prospect of having anything for weeks.
          Dreadful state to be in here in the 21st century.

  • John Steadman

    The food bank issue is exactly like the larger issue of welfare benefits – those benefiting from them might be of the deserving or the undeserving category (emotive terms in some people’s eyes, but they do the job); and the question is, what is the proportion of each? I just wish the tv/radio reporters would insist on users of the banks revealing details of weekly domestic budget before using them to prove how we are letting decent folk starve to death.

    • balance_and_reason

      ‘decent folk starve to death’…you are literally out of your mind….stop electioneering

      • John Steadman

        Do you know what “literally” means? Electioneering – for whom? Do you know what figurative language is? Isn’t “balance and reason” a rather odd na

  • puffletino

    ‘And when, after exhaustive searching, I did find three or four such
    pictures, I was filled not with glee but instead with an unquenchable
    anger.
    You see, the one thing all the people in those photographs had in
    common is that they were morbidly obese. Very, very, fat indeed.’

    I realise you are not entirely serious when you say this – you are a journalist (and I believe your time at the Today programme proves – a good one) and as such will hold yourself to a higher standard when doing actual investigative journalism.

    I invite, no I *implore* you to spend some time away from google images and actualy spend some time at any food bank anywhere in the country – just speak to people and report back on what you find. Maybe the general tenor of the Speccie wouldn’t be interested in finding out about this – but I would.

    Until then, I will persist in thinking you are a better journalist, and a better man at heart than this piece shows. Cheers.

  • Neil Saunders

    You might as well ask why there are so many wasps at summer picnics.

  • Neil Saunders

    Seriously, though, there is absolute poverty in the UK. It’s a cruel myth (or a misconception born of being cocooned in affluence) to say that poverty in this country is always only relative. There really are people who cannot afford to eat, which is a disgrace in what purports to be a civilised nation.

    • balance_and_reason

      not true…..sure if you are a complete hopeless idiot and spunk all your cash on the booze and crack you might have nowt left…but between all the benefits available and someone who is half rational …no way could you starve.

      Go visit the Philippines and check out the slum area’s for a wake up call about what real poverty is all about. People in this country do not know they are born.

      • Neil Saunders

        We’re not talking about the Philippines, so let’s stick to the point. You’re making the assumption that all people on benefits are feckless members of the underclass, which is not the case. The cruel regime of so-called “sanctions” in the DWP means that many people – on the whim of some remote bureaucrat – are left without the means to buy food. The only alternative is to go to a food bank or to commit some kind of crime. I hope you never find yourself in receipt of benefits, although that is the ineluctable tendency of our society as more and more jobs are outsourced and offshored.

        • balance_and_reason

          No…we are talking about the Philippines, and any other place where there is real poverty….this nonsense being puffed around about people starving to death is just another Labour spin push to paint the wicked tories as murdering the deserving poor….remember we wouldn’t be in this mess if it weren’t for yet another scandalously incompetent Labour regime hosing the nations cash up the wall….we get what we vote for…learn the lesson for the future…don’t whine after the event.

          • red2black

            A greater tyranny being used to excuse a lesser one.
            Find somewhere where there’s more poverty than in the Philippines, then use that to show them how well-off they are.

          • balance_and_reason

            Sure, the world isn’t perfect ….but you are veering all over the place when I was discussing one subject…You can’t polish your right on credentials at my expense…I too think that abject poverty and starvation is bad and should be fought against; the problem is, the pathetically childish railing in juvenile rags like the guardian pumping socialist hogwash out to the teenage cheers of moronic dreamers (as opposed to coming up with a sustainable and workable solution).
            You may be dimly aware that we have a budget problem which has barely been addressed…it has been stabilised but we are still haemorrhaging cash , as a country. It is NOT sustainable…why? Largely down to the folly of Labours spending pattern when in power. Yes it would be lovely to wheel carts (fresh, organic, wholesome goodies too….why not) of food into everyone under the average earnings bar…but we can’t pay for the existing level of services our grateful public are taking…So what do you do….raise tax, gain efficiencies…..what do you do next when that has been pushed as far as it will go ( because lets face it 100 new taxes under Labour did push that particular game to the edge of the envelope)….services have to be cut. You are are therefore being naive, or lying for political effect, if you deny it.
            The army is being virtually halved, stuff is being sold off, arts funding is being cut,…..maybe you are a fan of cutting education spend? The tyranny you speak of is reality….the crunch of socialist’s hitting a brick wall of fact. That’s why Millipede does not want to win this election, because there is no money, so the dingy crew will snipe and carp and bullshit from the sidelines for the next few years till the piggy bank is replenished…then wait for the real concerted propaganda fest with the full on bbc/guardian media campaign….you will not believe the level suffering that the poor will mostly be undergoing in 5 years time.

          • red2black

            “No…we are talking about the Philippines…”
            I’m not a Guardian reader.
            Tax evasion – around £120,000,000,000 a year.
            ‘Bankers bonuses’ – £55,000,000,000 since ‘the crash’.
            If you’re poor, get used to it.

          • balance_and_reason

            Tax evasion is being worked on…and private individuals/companies who earn money usually contribute…and don’t actually cost the government or the people money ..year in year out…so …maybe some need chasing up but this is a bullshit number made up by socialist campaigners…a large percentage of the business, and wealthy people do not have to live here, or base here for a business; their contribution is ‘bunts for free’ on top of our normal tax take. Multinationals employ, spend, invest as well as pay tax…that is bunts for free as they don’t have to do business here…it does not cost the tax payer money….it is sustainable.
            Bankers bonuses are taxable…half goes to the government…it is correlated to success in individual parts of the bank…or financial institution…it is not paid when that division does badly…(or shouldn’t be) the euro initiative removes this flexibility (stupid uneducated interference resulting in higher salaries for bankers…) also many financial institutions steered the crash very well…nothing wrong with rewarding top fund managers/ top insurance, shipping, commodity, stock, corporate brokers for doing a good job…we have some of the best in the world and the business’s pay a lot of tax…sorry ..low grade socialist cracks at the city just crumble to dust in the face of the massive contribution in tax paid to the country and it is not subsidised….that means it is sustainable.
            The more you try and grasp ridiculous levels of tax the less people come here, and the harder they try to avoid. Real world.

          • red2black

            So why do people with the most feel the need to cheat in order to keep even more?

          • balance_and_reason

            I think you are generalising without any foundation in fact…vast majority of wealthy top level lawyers, doctors, fund managers, bankers, accountants, etc etc etc…pay exactly what they are due…its when the overall take goes from 55/60% of earnings to 65/70% (and I’m talking tax taken including all taxes across the board)…people start to get twitchy …and rightly so. Sometimes people who have not had money and have made it recently get resentful and we get Lester Piggot type situations or film/sport or rock stars who run off to low tax regimes…usually because they have super hi self esteem and believe they deserve it. Your generalisations about the bulk of the professional classes are simply wrong….and this can be seen by the fact that they pay the overwhelming majority of income tax.

          • red2black

            Not as a proportion of their total income. Andrew Neil made this point to one of his guests on ‘Daily Politics’ a few days ago. Lower down the social order, people usually have a single source of income, subject to compulsory taxation. Higher up, people tend to have more than one source of income. The proportion of their total income paid in tax per individual is less. Why should those with the most pay proportionately less than those with the least?

          • balance_and_reason

            Your logic doesn’t compute m8.
            It’s a self circulating argument a bit like the socialist definition of poverty which showed that in the first three years of Osborne taking over the books the number of poor had dramatically reduced…in a recession.
            If you earn £12k you pay no income tax on the first 10, you pay 20% tax on non food items…I’m not seeing how you get to the 50% plus levels of tax that higher rate plus NI plus all the rest that much higher earners pay?
            Maybe you are operating with that special magic calculator that Gordon Brown used…a lot of socialist disinformation gets pumped pure and unfiltered through our beloved public broadcaster.

          • red2black

            I paraphrased a point made by Andrew Neil to one of his guests, who didn’t refute it. If it’s some sort of ‘socialist disinformation’ Mr Neil has been subjected to, then perhaps he should be informed.

          • balance_and_reason

            He is supposed to be the voice of balance on the BBC…the oh so right wing one to balance the rest of them…clearly he’s a luncher who can’t be bothered to do the detail…remember Paxo’s nodding donkey interviews with Brown prior to the elections in the Blair Brown confederacy…..same crap from an over paid bunch of piss takers

          • red2black

            All for less than three quid a week! (tee hee)

    • Sean L

      You need to get out more mate if you imagine people are poor here. Plenty of urban areas in Africa and Asia where malnourished children are part of the scenery and no one gives a toss. As I’ve been told on numerous occasions when I’ve been inclined to give them something, No you will only encourage them. It’s up to their families to look after them. If the lefties applied the same standard of judgement to other places as here, they’d realise that this is the most left wing place on earth. The only place to have ever realised anything remotely resembling egalitarian ideals. The only place where such a thing as a left exists – the place meaning the Western world generally.

      • Neil Saunders

        I’m not your mate, Sean, and you need to stick to the point, which is that there is poverty in the UK. We’re not talking about Africa and Asia, “mate”.

      • Neil Saunders

        I’m not your mate, Sean. You need to stick to the point, which is that there is poverty in the UK. We’re not talking about Africa and Asia, “mate”.

        • Sean L

          Neil, my brother man, do you ever pause to consider the rational basis for the terms you employ? I mean, “absolute poverty” – what conceivable meaning can one attach to that? Starvation? Malnutrition? Delirium? Intensive care? In world terms anyone with access to clean water and santitation is relatively affluent. The starting point for judging poverty is here is already historically and geograhically unprecedented. I’d prefer the term “misery” because it’s depressing to be without in the midst of plenty. It gnaws at your self worth and you despair. Whereas elsewhere where people really do go without they’re often more content. Because they’ve never known any better. Just as people here thought that eating a banana was the heighty of luxury not so long back . . . but if bananas are available to everyone for a pittance they’re worthless. As Karl Marx put it, poverty is socially generated. Ultimately it’s a matter of social status, not material wealth as such.

  • Martin Jennerson

    Hardly surprising that enterprises that give away free food experience increasing popularity.

  • Robert S. Orr

    It’s simple economics, the action of the market. Giving away free food has infinite demand elasticity. The more food you give away, the more people will line up for it. An infinite demand leads to food bank ads with “twice as many people use food banks as ten years ago”. Of course they do.

    • red2black

      The difficulty is in making sure that the food goes to people who are genuinely in need of it.

  • Swanky

    The thing that surprises me is that people hold on with obstinacy and hostility to the idea that fat people are morally failed people. They might find fatness — obesity — abominable, distasteful. Fine. Perhaps that is the instinctive ‘I don’t want to be that’ reaction. But it doesn’t make those people knowledgeable. In fact, the most brusquely unsympathetic people are the least informed of all.

    If you want to learn something about reality, this is the cheapest hour or so of your life that you will ever spend to get wiser (and more compassionate, while you’re at it):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5W0eAhrO-8&list=FLJPtX6xe7JK6JZvSSX7GZ3w&index=8

  • Grumbly McMadeupname

    Ah, the mysteries of life. Like, why is there always a witless bellend in pictures of Rod Liddle?

  • jaz

    “food blogger Jack Monroe, who is rapidly emerging as one of the nation’s most supremely irritating people”.
    Why such modesty Mr. Liddle?
    She hasn’t yet to make even the foothills of mild annoyance while the likes of James Delingpole and Toby Young have scaled the highest heights. And sitting atop the mountain of irritation? Mr. Liddle himself.
    She has a long, long way to go before she could count herself in such company.
    What elevates you and these others to such “greatness” is your willful disregard for the facts. Why let facts get in the way of good bile-filled rant?

  • ArthurSparknottle

    Poor people ought to eat porridge. It costs pennies to make a great bowlful and it is delicious. It can even be made luxuriously good if you put a teaspoonful of Nutella in it and stir it around. You can cook it in an 800watt microwave in about four minutes so it uses hardly any power either – much cheaper than doing it on the stove.

    I eat loads of porridge and I’m not even poor. I’m just a miser with piles of money. If it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for them.

    • Swanky

      Goodnight, Mr Fartsnottle.

  • Noel Darlow

    An utterly disgusting article, making fun of desperate people – whose circumstances he knows nothing about – because they don’t look desperate enough. Real hunger is not a subject for humour. Much of this is deliberately inflicted by the government on its own citizens as a result of a pointlessly vicious sanctions regime.

    • Swanky

      Eh? Much of ‘this’ is inflicted on the general public whatever their income by a medical establishment that has been talking out its @rse for 40 years. And you can primarily blame Americans for that — chief among them, Ancel Keys.

  • William_Brown

    It’s rather disturbing to see how many comments here miss the point completely and suppose, or pre-suppose, that you’re having a pop at food banks and the poor!

    Why can’t people read first and comment later? – Christ it’s getting like the Guardian comments section here of late – more knee-jerking than a twitching corpse.

  • anrawel

    The government stopped Crisis Loans and other ways of getting food fast. I used food banks twice; I had to wait 4 months 13 days (!) for Jobseeker’s Allowance because an extra form had been sent to the address I’d been kicked out of and I wasn’t told this till I rang the 3rd time. I’d given the Jobcentre five days notice before becoming homeless, though my landlady didn’t pass on an earlier letter from them anyway. We were asked to leave as lodgers because I was pregnant and my daughter had head lice. I was eventually backpaid. I ran out of £4,000 savings and had £98 a week child tax credits + child benefit + child maintenance. Council temporary accommodation was opposite side of town from her school so I spent £26 a week on buses, £4+ on mobile phone and had up to 68 for food, electricity, clothing etc. Can cook but only had a microwave. I asked the Jobcentre to pay for or provide childcare for an interview, they refused so I couldn’t go. Council told me to stop paying off credit card and use food bank!

    • anrawel

      Some lessons for the Government here. They could have saved quite a lot if I could have gone back to work as a teacher. But being in accommodation you may have to leave any day makes it tricky to work. Also, I know it sounds unbelievable but the boiler in my temporary flat didn’t work for 4 months. Turned out the electricity was no longer connected to its ignition, then it required a new motherboard, and 3 of the Carillion engineers didn’t turn up. Council ended up giving me the 4 months rent free, which was handy as the baby was born about then and I wasn’t eligible for a Sure Start grant having one child already. My ex claims all my eldest’s baby stuff was destroyed.

  • mixodorians

    I now survive on £10 a week and had a heart attack last year because of the stress and anxiety caused by welfare reforms to me over a four month period. So stressed was I I wore my carpets thin worrying and pacing and awoke one morning having a big heart attack.
    Fact is the poor like me have serious enemies now.
    Enemies in the media who want to create resentment to sell papers and create click bait, politicians who want to destroy the welfare state for a taxcut and so want to slander claimants, employers who want to create negative perceptions about the poor so to employ cheap foreign workers through to foreign workers who want to smear and slander the British unemp!oyed as they want British jobs.

    People who downplay poverty in the UK (just because very cheap food is fattening doesn’t mean fat people are not very very poor or very very hungry) do so very very deliberately.

    The poor have many many enemies now.

    There must be legislation created to prosecute anyone who slanders the British unemployed. The innocent unemployed have done nothing to deserve this apart from be in the sights and firing line of some very self serving and powerful people.

    Anyway ironically it has cost the state more to treat the heart problems (in very expensive medication, consultations and emergency treatment) it gave me than any savings it could ever have made through the bedroom tax etc.

    I have absolutely no doubt that Osbourne and Cameron and IDS and all those creeps would much prefer I died.

  • Factcheck

    I am dead certain people actually go to food banks because they enjoy living like that. It’s their lifestyle. Some of us live like that because it is so pleasant.

    There were some fat people even when they broke open Auschwitz.

  • “If there is money to be spent on alleviating poverty, then use it to raise the minimum wage.”

    Come on Rod. All this will achieve is unemployment.

  • Malcolm Massiah

    If there is money to be spent on alleviating poverty, then use it to raise the minimum wage so that fewer people need the food banks. And leave the running of the food banks to people like Robin Aitken.

    I agree Mr Liddle, and was amused by the whole piece.

  • R Baran

    Biased bullshit
    Poor people tend to eat cheap mass produced food ( crap in other words )
    full of sugar and fat.
    Its happening on both sides of the Atlantic.
    Throw in low self esteem, poor housing and desperation and you will realise why fat people are at food banks as well.

    • Gilbert White

      This has been said before you fool. Buy Tesco Rolled Scots Oats, seasoned with Tesco Raisins. A 15p. Breakfast. Even cheaper with Tesco ordinary oats.

      • Ricki Baran

        Oats and raisins three times a day.
        Lead by example and live on it six months.
        Ps. Sticks and stones.

  • Gilbert White

    Poor people should be given vouchers for tatoos as well. They have the right to get meaningful tatoos like the Beckhams.

  • Melanie Dyer

    Pathetic and so incredibly stupid. If a large person has run out of food and maybe has not eaten in 3 days, they are not going to suddenly become thin are they? That would happen over quite a long time. Just because they are at food banks, doesn’t mean they have cupboards full of food. So just let fat people go without so they don’t have to be seen at food banks is that right? And let there children starve, right? I am a larger person, and there are timjes whne I have had to go wothout.

    • John Hancock

      You mean you’re fat.

      • Melanie

        you really got to sort out that fat fetish. come out the closet

  • John Hancock

    Um, because they’re HUNGRY! lol

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