A few weeks ago I was invited to a one-day football tournament organised by AFC Unity, a Sheffield-based women’s team, in support of their Food for Football campaign.
Put simply, Food for Football encourages players, management and supporters from local football teams to bring donations of food with them to matches, which are then distributed to food banks across the city.
It’s a simple idea that makes a big difference.
It’s sad to say that everyone is now familiar with the idea of food banks, even if we’ve never had to rely on one personally.
Food poverty is a major issue for families across the country, and one that the Government have simply washed their hands of.
They don’t keep any record of food banks, or how many people rely on them.
You might hope that, with unemployment falling (albeit far too slowly), the need for food banks will diminish. Unfortunately a closer look at the economic statistics tells a different story.
There might be more jobs around now than there were a few years ago, but far too many of them are poorly paid.
Between 2007 and 2015 real wages in the UK, the actual purchasing power of money earned, fell by 10.4 per cent.
That puts us on par with Greece.
There are more jobs out there, but in terms of what you can afford with the money they pay, we’re going backwards.
Then there’s the cost of living.
The average household in Britain now spends 25 per cent of its income on the basic necessities of life – food, housing and utilities. For the poorest households this figure is 41 per cent.
What’s more, the amount of their weekly income that households are able to put aside for a rainy day is shrinking.
The upshot is more and more families who are financially vulnerable.
They’re in work and can get by day to day, but have no savings to fall back on.
All it takes is an unexpected bill, a redundancy, a late tax credits payment, and they find themselves having to rely on a food bank to make it to the end of the week.
So if food banks will be with us for a while yet, Star readers could do a lot worse than back Food for Football and similar projects.
The Government can talk the talk about helping working people, but there are plenty in Sheffield who are showing them how it’s done.