Food Bank tests teenagers on a rations learning curve

Ready..steady..go! and eyes down for the feast awaiting this team of eight after their four-day Food Bank testing
Ready..steady..go! and eyes down for the feast awaiting this team of eight after their four-day Food Bank testing

When eight Longridge youngsters agreed to see how they would last eating only Food Bank items for four days, they found out what a true learning curve really was.

The test for the young 12 to 17-year-old members of Longridge parish was suggested by them and backed by Vicar the Rev David Anderson.

He and his team of volunteers had launched the Food Bank in January after the high degree of need in the town was realised at Christmas. It was brought home particularly at that time when some of the youngsters helped to buy food for a distraught parishioner who had none and the idea of testing provisions themselves took hold.

So on Sunday April 6 the eight - Jack Thurlow 12 and his sister Rachel 14, Rebekah Wardley 12, 14 year olds Holly Williams and Amii Bateson, and Olivia Stewart, Lauren Cowell, Poppy Hough all 15 - were given large carrier bags filled with identical Food Bank items to take home and last the next four days - without any additions.

It was the first week of their holidays - and the verdict on the last day was that most found the test easier than expected, the items generally ‘reasonable,’ a favourite being the chicken and mushroom pie or the pasta, the worst the baked beans, the malted biscuits or UHT milk, not too palatable on the cornflakes or in tea and as a drink.

The provisions - which were in a typical Food Bank bag given to those who attend the regular centre at St Paul’s Church - also included teabags, sugar, orange juice, pasta sauce, tins of tuna. carrots, peas and rice pudding and a packet of Fruitella sweets.

One of the main results of such a regular but monotonous diet was the loss of energy felt by all the team. Jack resorted to being on his Play Station because it didn’t take much effort, he and sister Rachel shared lots of pasta which helped in planning meals, Holly felt it a bit dull eating cornflakes all the time and drinking only orange juice and tea, and Lauren found it a challenge not having fresh fruit and vegetables.

Olivia didn’t think she’d last the four days - but did! Rebekah found the tinned peas not a patch on fresh, and Amii took the cornflakes home at the end of the test and, with mum, make them into chocolate crispies.

All agreed with Poppy, however, that they had learnt the value of being able to choose what to eat, and how privileged they were that their mums could buy the traditionally good foods for their meals at home.

They had also realised how many people relied on the Food Bank centres for their provisions, and how they were really in need of not only food, but also other necessary household items.

Rev David said at the conclusions of the four days: “I am immensely proud of this team because they chose to do this as part of their Christian faith, learning how we help people within our community.”

He then helped to serve a feast of lasagne, jacket potatoes, chocolate brownies, strawberries and ice cream - as a thank you meal - and to restore their energies!