A Foodbox Fiasco

This is a collection of pieces celebrating food and recipes and I do not plan to let the toxic nature of politics enter my domain for long. However, this week has been a true representation of the abomination that is our UK Government.

After Marcus Rashford tirelessly campaigned to reinstate school meals the Governments response was an inexecrable offering. The pictures of food parcels provided by local councils were an offence to what constitutes food and cost a fraction of the £30 a week voucher would have bought families.

The UK Government have truly excelled themselves this time, not only have they under delivered but they have also put families in danger. At a time when we are all told to “Stay at Home” children or parents are expected to leave their house and travel to collect their meagre offerings whilst the parents have to either leave their child or the child may potentially miss their online lessons. I appreciate that the logistics of sending food parcels may not be easy but if they had left the voucher scheme in place then this would not have been a problem, the mere cost of a postage stamp is surely preferable to putting vulnerable children and people unable to work in danger. To put things in perspective this is what has been provided – apparently it costs £10.50 to supply:

Jack Monroe aka Bootstrap Cook showed us a picture of what her usual £20 a week shop looks like:

As you can see not one reduced item and plenty of nutritious food.

When we went into lockdown last year I found a local food box service for myself and the vegetable box (shown below) was a mere £25 so please do not tell me its not doable.

What disgusts me the most is that parents despite being asked if they had any dietary requirements they were then ignored and told them to leave what they didn’t want, firstly that is a complete waste of food and secondly don’t bother pretending to care when you clearly don’t. Given that we are meant to be promoting healthy eating and I would like to think that the Government wouldn’t be so stupid as to give people food they would be allergic to it just proves how little respect they have for anyone other than their own. The tory attitude continues to be why should we support these people (why the fuck should we be supporting their thieving dishonest government?). When they put their own party supporters in charge of contracts which may will have been executed far more competently by companies who know what they are doing (ahem Test and Trace system run by TalkTalk CEO responsible for the largest security breach in ISP history). The other worrying thing (as someone pointed out) why is food being opened and separated in a pandemic? When we are trying to ensure that people stay safe it only takes one cough or a sneeze using inadequate PPE and there is the potential to infect all those receiving the parcels.

The Trussell Trust are a Food Bank charity who rely on the public for donations of food, we are fortunately blessed with many people who can and do donate to this important cause. Their 3 day emergency food packages are nutritionally balanced and actually give people ingredients they can use for meals.

A typical food parcel includes:

  • Tinned tomatoes/ pasta sauce
  • Lentils, beans and pulses
  • Tinned meat
  • Tinned vegetables
  • Cereal
  • Soup
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Tea/coffee
  • Tinned fruit
  • Biscuits
  • UHT milk
  • Fruit juice

Food banks will also provide essential non-food items like toiletries and hygiene products where they can.

So why can companies chosen to fulfil these contracts cannot do the same – despite access to wholesale items and pricing do any better? One even sent a dry bread mix where people were expected to add water and make their own bread for an “interactive cooking experience” nice try but lets be fair we all got over the bread making phase of the pandemic last year so please don’t make extra work for people just because you think its clever. If the supermarkets only sold these bread mixes then bakers would become very popular. This pretty much ignores the Department of Educations guidance on what should be in the parcels.

What does guidance on food parcels say?

  • Parcels should contain food items rather than pre-prepared meals due to food safety considerations
  • Minimise the fridge and freezer space that schools and families will need to store foods
  • Contain items which parents can use to prepare healthy lunches for their child/children across the week
  • Not rely on parents having additional ingredients at home to prepare meals
  • Not contain items restricted under the school food standards
  • Cater for pupils who require special diets, for example, allergies, vegetarians or religious diets – schools should ensure there are systems in place to avoid cross-contamination
  • Contain appropriate packaging sizes for household use, rather than wholesale sizes

Source: Department for Education

It makes my blood boil to think that this is the stupidity we have to deal with on a daily basis from people who are supposedly in charge. The Prime Minister has confirmed that these offerings are not acceptable and I would like to think that they will go back to the voucher scheme which has worked perfectly well before.

Right now my rant is over I would like to offer a recipe up from an inspiration of mine Emily Scott aka ‘WhatIAteForBreakfast‘ has continually pushed the boundaries of breakfast and brunch and I would like to share a recipe which will really jazz up those potatoes and beans the food parcels have lumbered you with.

Pizza Has Browns From WhatIAteForBreakast

Pizza Hash Browns

Serving Size:
2 to 3 hash browns
Time:
15 minutes
Difficulty:
easy

Ingredients

  • 1 Large potato
  • 30g of Cheese of your choice – if you are stuck with slices cut into ribbons.
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Puree or tomato ketchup if you don’t have puree.
  • Mixed Herbs (if you don’t have don’t worry)
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions

  1. Wash & grate a large potato (I leave the skin on as it’s a good source of fibre).
  2. Squeeze out as much excess liquid as you can in a clean cloth/tea towel (this step is key for crispy hash browns so don’t skip it!).
  3. Mix the grated potato with a pinch of salt & pepper, plus any other herbs/seasoning of your choice – I added mixed Italian herbs – you could also use all purpose seasoning.
  4. Heat a large non-stick frying pan with a small amount of oil/spray and spoon half of the mixture into 2 or 3 rounds (depending on how large you want the hash browns to be).
  5. Mix 1 heaped tsp of tomato puree with 1 tsp cold water to loosen and a pinch each of oregano & salt.
  6. Grate 30g cheese of your choice (I used a mixture of mozzarella & cheddar), then evenly distribute the tomato mixture and cheese in the centre of each hash brown. Spoon over the rest of the potato so that it covers each of the cheesy tomato centres.
  7. Cook the hash browns for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden & crispy.
  8. Serve and slice in half to reveal the melting pizza centres. Enjoy!
  9. #whatiateforbreakfast

Are you one of the recipients of these abominable offerings? Let me know in the comments below or join the conversation at facebook.com/onlynomeswriting or twitter.com/nomwritingfood

If you would like to grab a copy of my book and support my writing it is available in both print and kindle version check out the links below. Donate to your favourite charity when you buy my book using Amazon Smile!

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