"Food. Food. Food. Everything is about food these days. Food insecurity sucks, and even when one reaches a state of food security, that fear is ALWAYS there. That 'will it last, is this enough, what if xyz happens'. Hunger, real no-idea-where-the-next-meal-is-coming-from type hunger, leaves psychological scars. Food insecurity for children leaves them traumatised, with unhealthy food relationships, FOR LIFE. Kinda like ptsd. I know cos I've lived it. When I was a kid, I'd fight other kids for food, I'd steal food and I'd eat mouldy food. If I'd have known I'd be on benefits as a mother I'd never of had kids. I never want my kids to feel that level of hunger. It still effects me, our cupboards are full but I still skip meals fearful that we'll run out and my kiddies will be hungry. I know we wont, I know I've planned and budgeted and we get enough food aid (out local community center has been amazing sending out weekly goodies) but that fear, those scars from my childhood that in adulthood manifest in anxiety around feeding my children. It's emotionally painful. And we're a lucky family. We're lucky in that we've got the community centre, I've got neighbours I can ask for food from in an emergency and vice versa. We've got an aldi within walking distance. We're one of this countries luckier low income families. So many are so much worse off that us. That makes me sad.
Today, as its the day we normally get a bag from local community center, kiddies and I went in the front garden. Played football, got all muddy in the rain, had a jolly old time lol. A neighbour came out for a quick chat as we do most days now, her little one is too young for the centre so while she's not been actively telling us that she's hungry, from reading between the lines me and another neighbour (who also receives from the community center) knew enough to share our bits with them each week. Well, I'd thought today that I'd ask community center if this neighbour could be added to their delivery list, but I didn't want to embarrass the neighbour so when I saw her I said "I'm waiting for delivery from the center, come over and help yourself when it comes. I was thinking, how would you feel if I asked them to add you too their list? I'm sure they'll be happy too." She thanked me and said she'd been too shy to ask them herself, I'd sent her the link to their site a while ago but I know how shame and embarrassment can make contacting help for oneself harder, so when the center delivery came, as my kiddies were showing their football skills, I mentioned about my neighbour and the centre said they'd definitely add her to next week's list. My neighbour's just text me to thank me, saying the centre dropped off a bag of items for her today. She's so happy bless her. See, it's tricky for their house cos they're so young, still so full of hope and pride bless em, the mister has a car and a job, from the outside you'd think they were pretty well off (atleast by our estates standards), but that's not the reality. Often, people like me who are sololy reliant on benefits actually have more money in the bank after bills that those that work. As I've less taxes and no car to worry about. Poverty, food insecurity, comes in so many different varieties under capitalism. But its just as painful for each person, regardless of their work status. Just as scary. Just as unjustly shameful. And it's generational. As much as I try to limit the effect my mental health has on my children, it still effects them. They see me skipping meals and feel confused, guilty sometimes, and I reassure them but it hurts them too. That is why it makes me so angry to see kids go hungry, anyone's kids. We have no excuse for it these days. Food waste is at an all time high and yet children in well developed countries still go hungry. It's shameful.
On a positive note. When the center dropped of the bag of goodies today, they told me that next weeks delivery date would be different. It'd be on Monday. They also said they'd been giving us a £60 voucher for the local butcher. I recall saying "I'm sorry, what was that number, I think I misheard you?" they repeated and I said "a whole £60? For fresh meat? Wow" and they explained that they'd received funding to give out vouchers but still wanted to help local businesses, so this compromise was agreed. So with the vouchers they'll give us, and the aldi vouchers I've already got, plus the fruit and veg they'll deliver on Monday. Christmas Dinner is basically in the bag. I spoke to another local elderly chap, he's got no one on Christmas day so I made sure to reach out and see he'd be okay, so I've assured him we'll send him some Christmas Dinner. So that's two extra mouths this year, which I was worried about (wouldn't stop me, everyone deserves a good meal on Christmas but I was a little worried if I'd have enough food to stretch for that many people) but thanks to the community centers help, I've nothing to worry about this year. That's how kindness works, it's a trickle, like a stream through the mountains, building to a river, eventually too the sea. Kindness spreads like wildfire when people don't have to be frightened or protect their limited resources. The more we receive, the more we can give.
It's kinda scary, like I know I've nothing to worry about but I'm still worried (that what if fear will always be there) but I'm also so glad, so reminded of what hope feels like, to see people coming together and helping each other out. Our community center is helping local families and local businesses. I'm so happy for one of my neighbours especially, she has four kids in her little two bed house. Plus her partner (who doesn't live with her cos they can't get a house big enough for their combined family) has four kids in his house. So combined they've 8 kids, two sets of household bills and no job. They're also some of the biggest food sharers on the street. The mister works however he can but its tough for him normally, let alone this year. So I'm thrilled to think that they'll have no shortage of meat this Christmas (the community center told me it's a £30 voucher per child, so we get £60 cos we've got two kids, so neighbour with four kids will get £120, which will be so good for their kids, maybe more if her partner also gets support,i don't know if he does cos, well I've not asked, not my business). It makes me so happy to know that the people around me aren't going to starve either.
Little things like this mean so much when our situations feel so hopeless. Small acts of kindness feel so huge. And it feels good to know the people in our community are not ignored or forgotten. "