Jack Monroe writes in The Guardian that an online outcry that started on Tuesday shows no sign of going away.
The photo of two blackening bananas, a tomato, two potatoes, three apples, a loaf of bread, about 200g of pasta, two carrots, slices of cheese, two mini-malt loaves, a can of baked beans and three Frubes is one of the defining images of our times. Posted on Twitter by @RoadsideMum – she has asked to remain anonymous and goes by the pseudonym “Lisa” – it has been viewed 28 million times and shared worldwide.
Marcus Rashford, Jamie Oliver and Tom Kerridge signed a letter urging the prime minister to review the free school meals process. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said on Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday that there needed to be a “full root-and-branch review”. The Child Poverty Action Group, the Food Foundation and many other charities added their voices.
It’s brilliant that food poverty is finally getting the attention it deserves, and indeed the crumbling and often bureaucratic and inaccessible support structures do need to be assessed to see whether they are fit for purpose in 2021. But in order to improve the lives of people living in hardship, the voices of those in the eyes of their own personal storms need to be raised and not talked over by well-meaning people keen to charge to the front of the furore.
My own experiences of poverty still affect me, mentally and physically, every single day, and I am nowhere near financially secure or emotionally stable yet, although I hope to be one day. Yet I am mindful that even I, once described by Patrick Butler as “the modern face of poverty”, live in relative comfort compared to the cold, hungry, suicidal young mother of eight years ago, blogging in the dark on a Nokia E72.