The Great British Budget Menu
Posted by Lillie Jenkins on 17 July 2013
I don't know about you but I found watching The Great British Budget Menu on BBC1 really interesting. Not least as all of the chefs went over budget! However, it was hartening to see the way in which they all, Angela Hartnett especially, seemed to engage with their hosts and look to find practical support for them. And I'm glad they began to raise the issue with policy makers and supermarkets albeit in a slightly showbiz manner. (Programmes like Food Fight that use similar stunts have seen real differences made). Overall for me it was another clear example of the massive gulf between richer and poorer lifestyles in our country today and that's a massive challenge to us all.
A couple of issues stood out to me that I wanted to follow up. One was unit pricing. It's been a major bug bear of mine for some time not least because my maths is rubbish and it stops me doing like-for-like comparisions when I shop, a fact that's even more of an issue when you're on a tight budget.
I was encouraged to know Laura Sandys MP is on it's case and keen to back her fight. Here's a letter I sent to her. Please feel free to amend it and send it too whether as an individual or Lunch Kitchen.
Dear Mrs Laura Sandys MP,
I am writing to you in response to an interview that you gave as part of the Great British Budget Menu, on BBC 1, aired on 11th July.
I was delighted to hear that you are wanting supermarkets to review unit pricing as I believe this issue is so serious that it is actually contributing to food poverty in the UK.
The different forms of pricing that supermarkets are allowed to give identical items and the different forms of unit price on various packaging options make it nigh on impossible for shoppers to make positive choices on like for like comparisons.
In the programme chef, Angela Hartnett struggled to do the maths on multiple chicken deals and yet she is responsible for the budget of a multi million pound restaurant business. What hope has someone who never completed school got?
I am not just writing as a concerned individual but as the Project Director of makelunch.org.uk. We encourage churches and community groups to make lunch during the school holidays for families entitled to free school meals during term time. 1.2 million children take up free school meals which is brilliant but this means that for 13 weeks of the year many of those children are without their primary source of nutrition.
makelunch.org.uk is now in it’s third summer, we started with just three kitchens running as a response to the Poor Kids documentary shown on the BBC in 2011 and will now have 20 kitchens operating across the holiday in July and August 2013. We have more waiting to join them too.
We are trying to support those families for whom the holidays bring added financial pressure and to restore some of the sense of fun and friendship that should be the hallmark of the school holidays.
Making it easier for these families to make better food choices year round would have a huge impact and so I would urge you to seek action on unit pricing and we will watch with interest for any way in which we can support such a move.