Mum living on £20 after bills relies on free food due to rising prices

Cost of living: Bristol resident labels food prices 'outrageous'

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A struggling mum shared her worries with BBC Panorama in its recent episode, Why is Food So Expensive, as soaring food prices have left her with just £20 spare per week after rent and bills are paid. The report comes as journalist Lisa Robson delved into the “dizzying list” of global factors driving food inflation in tonight’s show.

Emma, who lives in Kent with her 14-year-old daughter Anna, shared how she now has to rely on free food from the community fridge at the local church to get by.

Emma reminisced: “Before, we’d just go to a supermarket and just put things in our trolley – we can’t do that anymore.

“Every bit of food, you’ve got to really make it go a long way.”

According to Emma, her income is limited by health issues, which don’t enable her to work easily. Instead, she depends on Universal Credit and Child Benefit.

Emma said: “I worked for over 30 years as a carer. Then I got arthritis in my spine and after having an operation, I couldn’t go back to work.

“I had to then go on Universal Credit. It was okay at first but now, because gas and electric have gone up so much and all the food has gone up, it doesn’t matter what you do, you haven’t got the money there to pay it all.”

Emma continued: “I am worried about health. It is difficult to try and rustle up a meal that’s healthy and sometimes you just have to go with what you can find.”

To help make money stretch, Emma has been using energy-efficient methods and bulk cooking.

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She said: “The slow cooker’s brilliant, it hardly takes any electric at all so that’s a really cheap way of doing things.

“Put it on in the morning and it’s done by five o’clock in the afternoon – you’ve got a meal.”

“If you just cook one day, you’re only using gas and electric for that one day and the rest of the days you don’t have to because if you batch cook, it just all goes in the freezer.”

She added that now: “Every meal has to be planned for – you really have got to use your imagination.”

The show shed light on the pressure that food inflation is putting on households on a national level.

Describing it as one of the most “deprived” areas in the UK, Ms Robson travelled to Liverpool to speak to members who work at Walton Vale Community Shop – a service that helps local people struggling with their food bills.

The Community Shop collects donations and surplus from the food industry and brings them to different locations around Merseyside.

The pop-up pantry runs on a membership scheme that enables anyone living locally to pay £3.50 to choose around £25 worth of food.

The team told the show they now help feed around 7,000 people a month, up from 500 per month when the service first launched around 18 months ago.

Walton Vale Community Shop worker Robbie said: “I’ve never seen it this bad in my lifetime”

“I would say about 60 percent of people that come here are in work poverty. Their wages aren’t enough to keep them warm at home and feed them as well.”

He continued: “We’ve had postmen here, we’ve had firemen here, nurses, loads of pensioners. People actually depend on us now.

“We can’t cope with it, and other organisations can’t cope with it. It’s catastrophic.”

Why is Food So Expensive aired at 8pm on Monday, November 14 on BBC One. 

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