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More and more people are resorting to using food banks every year – that’s a fact. This is due to many different reasons, but the main ones are delayed benefits, homelessness and low incomes. The result is that hundreds of thousands of people don’t have the money to provide themselves with enough food to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.

We know it’s happening, but do we actually understand the implications this has?

According to Tom Sanders, a professor of nutrition at Kings College London, £12 is the minimum amount an adult could spend on their food budget a week to ensure a healthy and balanced diet is met. However, many people are forced to live off much less.

For these people, food banks and homeless shelters can have a really important part to play.

Why are People in Food Poverty?

In 2013/14 the Trussell Trust – the largest provider of food banks in the UK – provided 913,138 people with three days’ worth of emergency food– that stat is up 566,146 compared to the previous year (346,992 in 2012/13).

According to their research, just under a third (31%) of people end up at the food bank because of delays to their benefits. Just over 16% more are forced to ask for food hand outs because of changes in the benefit system and a further 20% because of low income.

The figures go on to reveal several other reasons why people are unable to put food on the table. They include unemployment, homelessness and sickness. It’s not hard to see that it wouldn’t take much for you to end up in the same situation. All it takes is a long-term illness and you could find yourself in need of a helping hand too.

So, here at thinkmoney, we decided to challenge people from organisations who understand the issue best – food banks and homeless shelters – to live off a £5 food budget for one week, to bring to light the difficulties so many of the population encounter on a daily basis.

Can it be done?

We’re sure such a feat can be achieved, that’s not to say it’ll be easy though. You could just buy:

1kg packet of value porridge oats for 75p – that’s breakfast taken care of

Value White Bread 800g for 45p and Value Peanut Butter 340g for 64p, which comes to £1.09 – that’s lunches for the week

7 packets of value pasta ‘n’ sauce at 20p each, which totals £1.40 – that’s dinner dealt with

That’s a grand total of £3.24. But, as you can clearly see, the menu is neither healthy nor appealing. The challenge is making food that is interesting, satisfying and nutritious, so that it keeps you healthy and full of energy for the day.

Can you maintain your day-to-day life and get all the nutrition you need while living off a £5 food budget for one week? Stay tuned to find out!

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