Christmas is a time for giving. Christmas is a time for giving. It's also a time for drinking, but that's not what this post is about (although check back next week for a Christmas cocktail recipe...). There are a couple of charities that I give to regularly throughout the year, but around the holidays I like to dig a little deeper and support a couple of other charities that don't usually get my pennies. Since this is a food blog, and Christmas is a foodie holiday, I thought I'd give you a few suggestions for some food-related charities that you could bob a few quid to during December. Obviously, giving to charity is a very personal thing, and I would never try to extort you to give money, but hopefully this is a little reminder, and maybe a little inspiration, if you were thinking of giving a little something.
The Trussell Trust runs a network of food banks across the UK and, with food bank usage in this country on the rise, they really do provide a very valuable service. Not only do they provide food parcels for for people in emergency situations, they also help signpost them to other services that can help provide longer term solutions. In 2014-15 foodbanks fed 1,084,604 people nationwide. Of those helped, 396,997 were children. It's horrid enough to think of people going hungry, but at Christmas it's even worse.
As well as donating money, you can also donate your time to your local food bank to help sort and distribute food, or donate food to them directly. There's a stand at my local Waitrose where you can regularly donate food (although it's by the checkouts so I always forget by the time I've got round - I'm determined to go and do a dedicated shop this weekend!) so look out at your local supermarket and on the Trussell Trust Twitter page.
We're all aware of the high levels of food waste in society, and FareShare are working to tackle it in the best way. They intercept surplus food that would otherwise go to landfill and redistribute to their partners across the country, where it is used to help feed those who need it. The partners they work with include homeless hostels, breakfast clubs and women's refuges and they help contribute to 16.6 million meals per year with food that otherwise would have been just thrown away. They're turning an environmental problem into a social solution, and you can support them by donating here.
Magic Breakfast is one of the aforementioned charities that I donate to throughout the year. The provide free, nutritious breakfasts in schools where over 35% of pupils are eligible for free school dinners. Many children who live in poverty will be sent to school without breakfast, or even having not eaten since they left school the day before, which makes it more difficult for them to concentrate and learn and therefore affects their academic performance and future prospects. It's amazing what such a little thing can do, and it only costs 22p to feed a kid breakfast and I spend ten times that on a hot drink in the morning. Magic Breakfast are currently feeding 22,000 kids breakfast every morning at school but there are an estimated half a million kids who are in need of this service. You can donate here.
Jamie Oliver Food Foundation
Is there anything this man isn't doing? The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation focuses, unsurprisingly, on food education through projects and campaigns. There are three projects currently: the Kitchen Garden Project, which works with primary schools to integrate growing and cooking food into the school day; the Ministry of Food, which is a community-based cooking programme that helps people of all ages learn to cook from scratch; and the Fifteen Apprentice Programme, which you've probably heard of and helps disengaged young people have a better future through training them around food. You can donate to their efforts here.
In a similar way to FareShare, FoodCycle intercepts surplus food and turns it into tasty, nutritious meals, which they then serve to vulnerable people across the UK. In one fell swoop they're able to tackle food waste, poverty and loneliness - all major social issues which we are facing right now - which is pretty impressive. All the hubs, where they serve meals, are run by volunteers so you can donate your time, or you can donate money to this worthy cause.