Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 627

2 1 DECEMBER 2022 News&Views Demand for food that can be eaten cold has soared at food banks across the UK, as more households cut back on the use of cooking appliances to cope with rising bills, according to a leading charity. Last year, the Trussell Trust’s cold packs –made up of foods such as canned products, cereals and snacks – were mainly requested by users who were homeless. “This year, we’re seeingmore households cutting back on heating their food, as well as their homes,” says Sophie Carre, head of corporate partnerships at the Trust, which supports a network of more than 1,300 food banks in the UK. “In some cases, people are turning down tea bags and dried noodles because they’re not using their kettle,” adds Sophie. “As well as an increase in demand for cold weather items, such as hot water bottles, blankets and candles, what we’re seeing right now across our network is people asking for our cold food packs, which aremade up of longlife food items that can be eaten without heating themat all.” The Trust is predicting its busiest and toughest winter yet, and expects to distributemore than 1.3million emergency food parcels over the next sixmonths, withmore than 500,000 of themgoing to children. Save the ChildrenUK is also concerned that households are having tomake di cult choices this year. “The festive period is always an expensive and emotional time for families, as expectations are high,” says Dan Paskins, director of UK impact at the charity. “This year, with rising food prices and energy bills swallowing budgets, we knowmany families will be able to a ordmuch less than usual.” LydiaWright, who runs a food pantry, the Smallshaw Hurst Community Action Group, in Ashton-under-Lyne in Tameside, GreaterManchester, is supported by Save the ChildrenUK. Families can join for £3, which allows them to choose around £15 worth of food every week. “We o er frozen and fridge items, store-cupboard basics and fresh fruit, veg andmeat. A lot of families are looking for the easiest and quickest way to cook stu because their energy bills are so high,” says Lydia. “Many of our members are on pre-paidmeters, which work out very expensive, so theymight be able to a ord freshmeat one week, then the next it will have to be food you canmicrowave or eat cold.” The pantry has started running workshops on nutrition and energy e cient cooking, including advice on using a slow cooker. “Some families have one, but don’t feel confident using it,” says Lydia. “We are also raising funds so we can provide other members with one.” Another way people can help this Christmas is by dropping o items at a local food bank, or at one of the collection points provided in everyWaitrose store. The supermarket’s customers have already donated almost 100,000kg of food so far this year, via the donation boxes. At 31Waitrose stores, including She eld, Colchester in Essex and Finchley inNorth London, shoppers can choose a pre-filled donation bag containing two to five items of longlife food, making it easier to donatemultiple products. For shoppers looking to step up their commitment, Sophie suggests checking with local food banks to find out which products are in short supply before you start. She also recommends including an item that doesn’t need cooking, such as canned tuna or canned fruit, as well as a gift or treat. “In the run up to Christmas, most food banks will be o ering a special Christmas box which contains extra items –maybe some toiletries, a gift for children, somemince pies or chocolates. So these types of products are great to receive,” she adds. As well as donating surplus food from its stores to local groups via the charity FareShare – which redistributes it to providemeals for those in need –Waitrose is also supporting Home-Start UKwith itsMagical Christmas programme. This will provide gifts, decorations and Christmas trees fromJohn Lewis andWaitrose for more than 150 families for the second year running. Charities across the country have launched an emergency appeal to help those in need, ahead of what will be their ‘busiest and toughest winter’, writes Anna Shepard FOOD BANKS BRACED FOR HARD TIMES HELPING HAND A slow cooker lesson (above); food bank donations in Waitrose (left); the Ashton-under-Lyne food pantry (below) Cover photograph: Sam Folan, Food styling: Jennifer Joyce, Styling: Wei Tang