Tesco doing more than their “Fare Share”?

Well far be it for me to praise Tesco! The Complaining Cow’s history with Tesco. But give them their due here and it’s about time other supermarkets followed suit, Tesco has been doing this for years but this year I think it is back bigger and better than before.

Volunteer with donations for foodbanksFrom today (30th November) until the 2nd December, Tesco is inviting people to shop for Trussell Trust and Fare Share. If you are in store, doing your shopping, add a few things in for the foodbanks and Tesco will distribute everything. But better than that they are actually topping up the donations by 20%. That will be in money to help support the organisations with more food purchases and running costs for the year.

More from Tesco about it here.

Lindsay Boswell, Chief Executive of FareShare said:
“Tesco has demonstrated real leadership in tackling food waste. Over and above the large volumes of surplus food they provide us, Tesco should be applauded for how they have embedded FareShare into all aspects their business – from distribution centres to stores and fresh food to ambient. Tesco’s level of commitment to using their surplus food for social good, has helped provide millions of meals for vulnerable people across the UK.”

Reverse Advent calendar
You may have been involved in the Reverse Advent calendar campaign? It’s not too late you can join in this too. That link will give you more background on the need for foodbanks and ideas for how you can help and information on the variety of things you can buy.

Increasing donations at no cost to you
To make your donation go even further, sign up to the shopping apps Shopmium* and Checkoutsmart. Install these apps on your phone and next time you go shopping have a look to see what is available for free or discount. (You buy the items then send picture of barcode and receipt and get refund). It’s to encourage you to buy more obviously! But items change regularly and you’ll always be able to find something you can get for free. Get these in addition to anything else you do and pop them in the Tesco trolley and it will be worth that 20% more! I have been getting lots of babyfood for free and donating that! Imagine if we all did that and Tesco gave a further 20%!

Check out Zeek* before you shop. You can sell and buy gift cards with a discount on Zeek for any retailer in store and online. Sometimes you can get supermarkets so worth a look and indeed for any of your other Christmas shopping.

*These are affiliate links which means that if you go through and sign up you and I will get £3- 5 and when you shop at Tesco in this short period, foodbanks gain some extra items and Tesco will lose a few pounds with everything you buy.

Wins all round!

 

Reverse advent calendar campaign

The back ground
Many of us love the Xmas advent calendar, especially those with children who get a chocolate each day don’t we? (And just where did those advent calendars go that just had the picture??) But many families are sleeping in bed and breakfast (that’s a just a term by the way, there is no breakfast).  The breadwinner has simply lost their job or fallen sick  and/or most have fallen foul of the failure known as the benefits system and the chaos that Iain Duncan Smith started. And let’s not forget he resided over it for some time before completely messing up the Universal Credit system for someone else to take the blame! But hey that’s just my opinion! Many of these families are local to you and their children go to your children’s school.

It is just so wrong that whilst many of us over indulge this Christmas, so many people will be struggling to feed their kids at all and/or will go hungry themselves through no fault of their own. With no school meals over the holidays and the need to heat homes, the struggle is even worse at this time than any other.  The use of foodbanks rises by 45% in December. The reverse advent calendar is just one small way in which you can give something back and it’s helping your local community too.

What is the Reverse Advent Calendar?
This reverse advent calendar is a great idea. It’s been happening for a few years now all over the world. The UK Money bloggers have launched a campaign to really give it a push this year and as one of the bloggers I am helping to promote it.

Each day for 24 days you put something for the food bank in a box and at the end of this time give it to your local foodbank. Some sites start on the 1st December and hand it in on the 24th December. But please see Tips and ideas below as most of us are doing it through November. We are doing 30 days too so it’s all up to you!

Statistics
The Trussell Trust’s Foodbank network of over 425 foodbanks handed out 1,182,954 three-day emergency food supplies given to people in crisis in the year April 2016 – March 2017. But remember there are many more foodbanks all over the country which are not part of this network so the numbers are far bigger that need to use these services.

Early Warnings: Universal Credit and Foodbanks, highlights that although the rollout of the new Universal Credit system for administering benefits has been piecemeal so far, foodbanks in areas of partial or full rollout are reporting significant problems with its impact.

The Trussell Trust commissioned an 18-month research project from the University of Oxford, led by Dr Rachel Loopstra where the key findings were:

• Households using food banks face extreme financial vulnerability. All food bank users
had, in the last month, an income well below the threshold for low income. More than
1/3 of households experienced an income shock in the past three months and over 2/3
reported unexpected and rising expenses during the same period.
• Almost half of households reported their incomes were unsteady from week to week or
month to month.
• Half of households included someone with a disability.
• Lone parents and their children constitute the largest number of people receiving help
from food banks, though single male households are the most common household type.
• Over 78% of households were severely food insecure. For a majority of households, this
was a chronic experience, happening every month or almost every month over the past
12 months.
• Food bank users experience multiple forms of destitution – 50% had gone without
heating for more than four days in the past 12 months, and 1 in 5 had slept rough in the
last 12 months.

20 Reverse advent calendar tips and ideas

  1. Think about when you want to do this. Doing it through December may seem like a good idea but if you are going to put some Xmas related food things in there, it may be too late for the food bank to donate. Find out from your local one when would be best to donate, it may want a mix as donations may be fewer in January.
  2. Google foodbank and your local area, not all foodbanks are run by Trussell, many are by other charities and churches.
  3. Contact your local foodbank and see if there are items of which they particularly short, and when would be best for you to drop off the box.  Although they will be grateful for anything 20 cartons of UHT milk maybe something they are short of possibly more useful than 20 different tins of beans and soup.
  4. Remember that some foodbanks also welcome toiletries so that families can maintain dignity and this will last them longer than the 3 days of food that they get too.
  5. Obviously foodbanks need non perishables, but look for long term use by dates too to make it easier for foodbanks to manage.
  6. Get the children involved, decorating the box, ideas of what to put in and perhaps even donate some pocket money or sweets?
  7. Drawer full of toiletries gift sets? Donate them
  8. Share the idea on social media with #FoodbankAdvent to spread the word
  9. Pastas, dried fruit, tins of soup, vegetables, rice pudding, custard etc., packets and jars of sauces, biscuits, tea/coffee, UHT milk, long life juices, baby food, rice, cereals, noodles, health bars, lentils, cakes, mince pies, Xmas puddings, bread/similar which keeps longer than fresh, such as part baked bread, waffles, wraps etc., crisps and other savoury items, soap, deodorant, shower gel, toothpaste, toothbrushes, sanitary products, toilet rolls, baby wipes and shampoo. Think of things that don’t need to be heated too, such as cold meats and fish so a substantial meal can still be had and boxes of Smash that only need water to make. Also, carrier bags! Or conference totes/canvas bags for life instead for more eco friendly use! There is talk too of some Foodbanks needing pet food. If you want to support pregnant women and families with infants see the First Steps Nutrition advice. (Note, Foodbanks won’t take formula.)
  10. Remember users of foodbanks are struggling to feed their families, as well as the essentials, so think about putting some treats in such as chocolates too (think of buying when buy one get one free on those tubs for even more!)
  11. Get the bargains when you see them in the supermarket and bargain shops which will good for toiletries. When you get the buy one get one frees consider giving them both that day!
  12. Keep an eye out for coupons and discount codes for items that you wouldn’t use yourself but would make ideal items for the foodbank
  13. Don’t forget to look in your cupboards for food you bought or were given but are now unlikely to use
  14. If you are going to get things with shorter life span such as part bake bread get them nearer the end of the 24 days!
  15. It was on one of those food programmes about saving money a few weeks ago showing that if you go down the World Food aisle that you will often find similar products just with a different name to that you are used to but are actually cheaper
  16. You don’t need a fancy box! Anything will do, everything gets sorted when it arrives at the foodbank and you don’t have to think what goes with what, the volunteers will sort into bags for users for you.
  17. Consider throwing in some sachets of herbs, remember that a lot of those emergency food bags will be full of bulky plain food, herbs and spices will add some flavour and take up little room in that bag
  18. Foodbanks are run by volunteers, consider volunteering or donating long term
  19. Think about getting your workplace colleagues to run some boxes, make it competitive between teams if you work in a big workplace! Or use it as way to spread the cost, you could also do this with your neighbours and your children’s clubs and groups

20. Great Tip! Shopmium and Checkoutsmart
Now, here’s a great little app. If you go to Shopmium you can get food with discounts or even for free. That’s a referral link, so if you go through and sign up on that I’ll get a freebie, you get a freebie and you will see the offers on at the moment which change all the time. Then you will have your own referral code too. I am using the offers to get discounts on perishables plus perishables that I don’t like so that the foodbank can get extra too taking advantage of every bargain I can get to be able to give more. Wins all round! All you need to do is take a photo of the bar code and receipt and you get your cash back. Shopimum uses all the major supermarkets.

Checkoutsmart no referral codes but works same way. Seems to have more looking through at the moment.

Iain Duncan Smith and politics
Can’t really do a post about foodbanks without mentioning this really.

Those of you who have been following my blog for some time will know that I interviewed Iain Duncan Smith when he was Director of Death and Destruction because he is my MP (don’t blame me I didn’t vote for him). The Complaining Cow Meets Iain Duncan Smith #IDSfail and Round 2 The Complaining Cow Meets IDS   when I went a second time much to his displeasure. I used the fact that I could go to his surgeries and took him to task in the limited time I had. One of the things, amongst many, was foodbanks.

I did let the food bank know of his request but I don’t think they wanted him there! One can understand why not.

And whilst we are about it. Jacob Rees-Mogg is one of the wealthiest MPs in Parliament. He has reportedly made millions of pounds in high finance and is due to inherit £100 million from his family estate. Know what he said about foodbanks? “The rise of food banks across the UK is actually “rather uplifting” because it shows the British people are charitable” and “The real reason for the rise in numbers is because people know they are there and Labour refused to tell them.” Idiocy for a supposedly educated man. One of those academics with no common sense. Or empathy. Or compassion. Or understanding of issues facing millions of families in the UK.

So who is first against the wall come the revolution do you think? Duncan Smith? Rees-Mogg? May? Farage? Gove? It’s ok I think there will be enough of us to take them all.

Foodbank volunteers donate at least £30million a year in unpaid work Foodbank volunteers ‘perform £30million a year worth of unpaid work’, shock study reveals Volunteers do a staggering 2,909,196 hours of unpaid work distributing food – and calculating the value of their time using the minimum wage, currently £7.50 an hour for the over 25s, it equates to £21,818,967 a year; or 55,945 hours, with a value of £419,587 each week. Should feeding children with no food or heating really be down to volunteers and donations?

Universal Credit
Trussell Trust and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau is calling for the Universal Credit to be suspended  to tackle and amend the poor administration in the system  before it can be rolled out effectively: reducing the 6-week minimum wait for a first payment and providing more support through programmes like Universal Support which would make a real difference to people navigating the new system. More here.

Pause the roll-out of Universal Credit, particularly until appropriate emergency financial support is available and accessible to all people left with no income or food.

Quick word on donating Advent calendars
It may cross your mind to donate some chocolate advent calendars. However, for those of us who have them, it leads up to the big day. Most families, if not all using a foodbank, will be using food possibly not even heated for Christmas day. Just another day, no big build up. I am going to donate a load of selection boxes with the calendar box instead.

Rounding up
So, are you going to do your box with me? I’m starting on the 1st November. Share on social media using the #foodbankadvent hashtag to encourage others. If you have any more tips, or ideas to share please do add them in the comments and please share the word wherever you can, it is such a good idea and helps so many people who really are in a desperate situation.

I’ll leave the last word to Lisi, daughter of Becky Goddard-Hill who blogs at Babybudgeting. So get your kids involved too. My son has decorated (ish!) the box but wouldn’t do anything on camera so well done Lisi!

Day 10
A third of the way in. The more eagle eyed will note that there are more than 10 items in here! That’s because so far I have got 3 jars of baby food, some chick pea puffs and some baked pea snacks for free so they are bonus items!

They came from 3 different shops using Shopmium (referral link) and Checkoutsmart.

Day 13
One of the UKMoneybloggers, Andrew, MoneyTree Man (remember I listed him in my 25 top finance blogs (saving, making, investing, tips & more ‘cos he made me laugh with his style of writing!) has made this video. I particularly like his tip regarding telling at least one of the  shop assistants what you are doing and inspire them to join in and share the word.

Day 15
Half way in (we are doing 30 days)day 15 items for the foodbank, baby food, biscuits, broth, chocolates, tuna, mackrel, toothpaste etc
Day 22
Two thirds (and a day!) in

Day 22 foodbank box, cereal, crisps, biscuits, rice, tins etcDay 30
Finished and ready to donate
2 boxes full of stuff for foodbankYou can still do one if you haven’t and can continue to donate whenever you like. You can even make Tesco donate a further 20% of your donation if you donate in there from 3oth November to 2nd December Tesco doing more than their “Fare Share”?

 

The Complaining Cow Meets Iain Duncan Smith #IDSfail

I am lucky enough to have Iain Duncan Smith as my MP! As a constituent of his I thought I’d go and have a chat. Well, poor old IDS he does get a bad press and I like to support the underdog so thought I’d give him a chance to put across how much he knows about the area for which he is an MP. He should know it well, he’s been MP since 1992 in Chingford and 1997 someone somewhere redrew the boundaries and he got Woodford Green as well. I was sure he visited often, (he doesn’t live in Chingford he lives here.) I thought I’d find out what he thinks about how people are affected by benefit reforms and cost of living rises.

So, I thought I’d go see him. Well why not? I went to see him as a concerned human being about my fellow man. I emailed him, 4 emails actually (that will be another story coming soon) and after 8 working days I got an email to ask if I could make a surgery on Friday. I asked her where it was and if I could record it. I was told that I could ask this at the surgery. Bit difficult when I didn’t know where the surgery was. I also was very very good and didn’t point out that there are no apostrophes in the words “Tuesdays” and “Thursdays” and those of you who know me and follow this blog know just how kind of me that was! For those that don’t see here!

Now, I have a new little gift for people when I meet them as The Complaining Cow. I thought I’d go bearing a present for IDS. Oh come on, how many presents do you think IDS gets from normal people? Anyway, It’s this:

"What is it?"

If you got this from someone what would you say? I asked on my Facebook page and generally, it was “Thank you”, and lots of “Clever idea” “Tell me about what you do” sort of things. So, given that it is a retro milk bottle (remember those milk bottles we had in school before Thatcher the Milk Snatcher?) with sweets in it and it clearly has a business card on it you’d think he would say something along the lines of “This is your business?” “Is this you?” “This looks interesting” Nope. He looked at it very suspiciously and said “What is it?” I explained, he did then say “Oh interesting, hope it works well for you, it’s what we need for the economy more people taking on challenges and risks” Did he Hell, he did say “Thank you” though.

So, I had my long long list. A few pages in fact, but sadly didn’t get very far. 15 minutes is a very short time you know. BUT! I have not been banned from going back and making regular appointments 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 So back I will go. Mind you if he see this and hears some of the clips he might decided against it, although as my MP I’m not sure he can do that?

So, you want to know what he said don’t you? Ok, after talking about the delay in responding to me I sort of mentioned social media:


Catch the part about emailing being as quick as tweeting? I’d already told him it had taken 8 working days for his office to respond to me. Watch out for a follow up post there were FOIs in them there emails which as far as I know haven’t been forwarded….

Then I asked him about Foodbanks:

Man of the people “..talks to lots of people from churches and stuff like that” What more do you want from him?! More positive stuff about IDS? Hmm well before that attempt here is an update 22/01/04 statement from Chris Mould from Trussell Trust:

‘We have asked Iain Duncan Smith to meet with us and would welcome the opportunity to speak to him.

We are keen to open a dialogue with DWP and have been asking to meet them for some time because the DWP is the key department with the power to help a significant proportion of the people we meet at our foodbanks.’

Also, as far as we know, we are unaware of Iain Duncan Smith asking us about foodbanks in Chingford. We will look into this further but cannot find a record of this at the moment”.

Oh, oh. Hmmm. IDS says he asked Trussell Trust if it was going to open a food bank in his constituency. It says they have no record. Someone somewhere is possibly telling porkies. I wonder which it is. Or maybe Trussell Trust will find it. I think they’d know though…..!

I do think that he actually believes what he is doing is right. He thinks he is doing good. I’m not saying he IS! I’m saying he believes he is. Hear for yourself where we chat about benefits and the cost of living (and no, I didn’t put that laughter in):

See what I mean? He believes what he says doesn’t he? “Generous benefit” “Most people get a fair deal.” The exemptions he mentions however are limited. No exemption is made for the equipment that might be needed by someone disabled for example. But I ran out of time…

Update 24/01/14:

(Can’t make these automatically open in another window so just right click!)

Smirking at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSQgw9K6FT8#t=1481
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSQgw9K6FT8#t=1743
Apparent laughter:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSQgw9K6FT8#t=1749

Now, I wonder if poor old IDS is being set up by Camoron. (Not a typo). Do you think he’s making IDS do all the dirty stuff then right near the election sack him and say “Look I got rid of him, we’ll make changes after his mess” as a crack at trying to get back into power? Aw poor old IDS.

Look, I didn’t vote him in, never have so don’t go pointing the finger at me! It is sadly though one of the safest seats in the country or I’d think about standing against him as an Independent with the name “Z None of the Above Please”. Not that I have the will, the inclination, the time, the campaign, the support or the money! Love to see someone give him a run for his money though, don’t think he has ever gone to a single house at election time. I’ve been ready for him but my vote isn’t important to him.

So, have you changed your opinion of the man? Did you think he was different talking to a constituent rather than a journalist? Did you agree with anything? Can you see another side?

Went and had another go Round 2 The Complaining Cow Meets IDS