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Messenger appeal to support food banks in Gravesend, Dartford and Swanley

The rise of food poverty across the UK has come to the nation’s attention and now I have had my own taste of the challenges caused by hunger.

As a show of support towards the Messenger’s appeal to support your nearest food bank, I decided to live off emergency supplies from Monday to Friday.

It was a chance for me to understand the situation facing thousands instead of merely reporting it.

I received a list from the Trussell Trust of items to last a single person for three days in exchange for a voucher.

Jamie Bullen with his food
Jamie Bullen with his food

Then I bought the food myself and lived off them for as long as I could.

The exercise has shone a light on the crisis, which can be a threat to anyone.

I’m 25, stocky and normally daydream what I am having for my main meal before I have eaten lunch, so this was not going to be easy.

I often tuck into seconds without warning or invitation and always keep the leftovers for lunch the following day.

Last week I missed out on lunch on more than one occasion and adopted a strict attitude about the size of my portions.

It was not the first time I have lived off little in the kitchen, having spent three years at university with no funds or cooking capabilities.

And although I never experienced the real pain caused by hunger, the idea that thousands of men, women and families are struggling today is hard to stomach.

Nevertheless, the week was hard.

My mood dipped often at the thought of what I would be eating for dinner, with the limited options available to me.

Using my pasta, I ate many different combinations using the meat, vegetables, fish and sauces.

The soups were eaten at lunch or dinner and towards the end of the week I scoffed plenty of digestive biscuits with a cup of tea.

I felt as though I had a taste of the harsh realities of food poverty, which I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid so far.

After launching our appeal, I was delighted to see food banks pushed to the top of the news agenda following interventions from ministers and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I hope it will go some way into seeing the back of hunger for good.

You can make donations at:

  • The Gateway Vineyard, Vineyard Centre, Market Street, Dartford, on Tuesdays, 10am to noon, and Thursdays, 3pm to 5pm.
  • Gravesend Methodist Church on Tuesdays and Saturdays, 10am to noon
  • St Paul’s United Reformed Church, Singlewell Road, Gravesend, on Mondays, 10am to noon
  • Redeemed Christian Church of God Life Start Connections, Coldharbour Road, Northfleet, on Fridays, 11am to 1pm
  • 16 High Street, Swanley, on Tuesdays and Fridays, 10am-2pm.
  • Alternatively you can leave any items at the Messenger office at 7 High Street, Gravesend.
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