2020 was a year that was devastating for so many reasons, as many of us will have experienced first-hand. The relationship between the pandemic and the environment is clear, and numerous discussions surrounding this link have been published, televised and debated. However, there is an impact even closer to home and possibly on your doorstep. Across the UK, people are going hungry. Whilst 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted globally each year, your neighbour, your friend, even your grandparent, could be living without adequate food resources without you even knowing. The stats are devastating; many people associate starvation with the poorest developing countries of the planet, however in the UK alone it is estimated that 870,000 children in the UK go to bed hungry as their parents cannot afford enough food for meals.
That’s in a ‘normal’ year, although this level of poverty should be far from a normality. Research conducted for ITV News reveals there has been a 110% increase in need for food banks during the pandemic, and 100,000 people were forced to use food banks for the first time between April and June 2020. To compound these figures, over 700,000 people across the UK had lost their jobs due to the virus by September.
The issue has received a recent wave of media attention due to footballer, Marcus Rashford’s, inspiring pressure on the Government to U-turn on their decision to withdraw free school meals for children whilst schools were closed over the summer holidays. However, this is simply one win in the wider issue of the UK poverty crisis – it is estimated that 14% of the UK population currently live below the poverty line.
The Trussell Trust supports a nationwide network of over 1300 food banks and provides emergency food and support to people locked in poverty. They also tirelessly campaign for change to end the need for food banks in the UK at all. According to their most recent report, the organisation provided over 1.2 million food parcels and took 19,000 calls for advice between April and September 2020 – a 47% increase on the previous year for the same period. Whilst their statistics are not yet available for the 2020 Christmas period, it is expected that these numbers could have increased at a dramatic and devastating rate; possibly by as much as 65%. In 2018, the Christmas period saw a 44% increase on monthly averages for access to food banks even without the presence of Covid-19.
Food banks rely on community assistance through non-perishable collections by schools, supermarket or social groups as well as individual donations. Planetary supports the UN Global Goals No Poverty and Zero Hunger, and that’s where our audience can help!
How Can You Help?!
This year, Planetary presents our Reverse Christmas Calendar Challenge in support of the Trussell Trust. We understand the impact the pandemic has had on everyone, and so we want to make our challenge as simple and achievable as possible for all. Planetary challenges you, our budding environmental activist audience, to purchase just one item a day, for 24 days, between now and Christmas Day; one single item that could change someone’s Christmas in 2021. Set up a box in your kitchen, bedroom, garage or shed, and between now and Christmas, place your items in the box instead of opening your conventional calendar. By the middle of December you will have built up a parcel of essential items ready to donate to your local Foodbank – it’s really that simple! You don’t have to stick to our challenge either… if you see extra items you want to add to your box (and can comfortably afford to) go ahead, or if 24 days is too many, anything you can donate will still make a difference! (Remember, items must be non-perishable, and must not include alcohol.) Our challenge items are based on suggested shortages across national foodbanks. You can refer back to our list of suggested items at any time. It is recommended that parcels are delivered towards the end of November – mid December if possible (check locally for cut off dates!) And remember: check your items for expiry dates beyond December 2021!
- Tinned soup – a can of Tesco own brand soup costs as little as 45p!
- Tinned fruit
- Dried pasta
- Pasta sauce
- Tinned meat (stewed steak, spam, hotdogs)
- Tinned tuna
- Tinned vegetables (potatoes, carrots, peas)
- Sanitary items
- Instant coffee
- Cereal box
- UHT Milk
- Juice (not fresh!)
- Pancake mix
- Rice pudding
- Long life sponge puddings
- Baked beans
- Toilet roll
- Stuffing mix
- Mince pies