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The Real Reason Food Banks Have Trebled

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One mention of food banks and we are all supposed to break out the Andrex tissues, wipe away our tears of sympathy and empty our cupboards into the nearest food bank donation box.

Unsurprisingly, my eyes are as dry as they were at my mother-in-laws funeral. Gove says food bank users have themselves to blame for being 'unable to manage their finances'. I agree.

Food bank users are like terminal cancer patients. There may not be a tomorrow so spend like hell today. It reminds me of children given money in a gift shop. They have to spend it all immediately, driven by a desire to spend not a desire for something they need.

One food bank user commented: "We were given a food parcel. Me and my partner sat down and ate for four hours solid until it was all gone".

To get hold of this free food, users have to wangle a voucher from an agency worker at a job centre or drop in clinic, supposedly to a maximum of three. This limit is not enforced.

Oscar-winning performances of desperation are plenty. A recent BBC documentary showed one man lying that it was his son's birthday in order to procure a voucher.

Individuals like this have become vouchers tourists travelling between agencies, collecting vouchers quicker than genital warts on a student. When a food bank challenges the agencies that have issued them, they hear that "it was easier to hand out a voucher than manage the person".

Undoubtedly these food banks deliver huge cost savings for agency and DWP budgets. Instead of dipping into their own hardship funds, ring fenced for those in moments of crises, they can hand out food bank vouchers.

People are playing the system because it is there to be had.

There are rich pickings for those on the take. As with any market, a black market is quick to spring up in its shadow. Food parcels are just another form of currency where high value items like nappies and baby formula are traded for drinks, fags and drugs.

Some food banks workers have explained how fresh produce and food that needs preparation is regularly handed back in favour of instant gratification and more expensive items. It is a peculiar world when those receiving hand outs can afford the luxury of choice.

Before the food bank even stocks its shelves any out of date items are disposed of. In good middle class homes across the country, sell by dates are disregarded as heartily as the arrival of a fifth child or new lodger in the house.

Of course there are genuine food bank users. But the massive growth in these food banks is not because more people are hungry. It is largely because we are feeding the dirty habits of people perfectly happy to live a life on the take.

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