Twist and turn benefit meet 2014

Government dismisses study linking use of food banks to benefit cuts | Society | The Guardian

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Lord Freud, the welfare minister, notoriously insisted that demand for food had risen because it was free, while the former education secretary Michael Gove suggested people turned to food aid because they had poor financial management skills. However, the study found that in most cases people used food banks because they were tipped into financial crisis by events that were outside their control and difficult or impossible to reverse, such as benefit cuts and delays, bereavement or job loss.

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Most people said they used food banks as a desperate and shaming last resort. Almost a third of food bank users interviewed for the study who had experienced problems with the benefits system said they had been sanctioned by social security officials and left penniless for weeks on end, while a further third were left unable to put food on the table because of lengthy delays in benefit payments.

The report says the current sanctions policy is causing hardship and hunger. The government has self-imposed targets for processing benefit claims within 16 working days.

However, the report says this period is too long a wait without income for vulnerable people, and in practice many claimants wait longer than this. There are concerns that the five-week delay before jobless people can sign on under a future universal credit system will cause hardship. Formal state crisis support available to people who are left without income because of bureaucratic delays in the processing of benefits was often inadequate or non-existent, the study found.

As a result, many people entitled to state help were forced to sell possessions, go without food, or take out expensive credit to buy essentials such as food and rent.

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Many worked, but in jobs that were low-paid and insecure. Women go through this practice at least three times a day and it is made even more challenging by limited family resources and food. Because money is always scarce, the mainly cereal-based meals, which contain little or no micronutrient-dense animal food sources, are often watered down to make them go further.

The situation in Sekhukhune is not unique; it is common in many rural areas in South Africa and other developing African countries. According to the World Health Organisation, more than half of the annual child deaths in developing countries are due to nutrition-related diseases.

For many of these poor households, the ability to access and afford pre-prepared nutrient-fortified foods is unimaginable.

Government dismisses study linking use of food banks to benefit cuts

They have no choice but to rely on the available indigenous staple foods such as sorghum, cassava and millet, prepared using traditional preparation methods. These methods, which have been used for generations, include malting, soaking, fermentation and a variety of cooking processes such as boiling.

They are all time intensive when used on these indigenous grains.

twist and turn benefit meet 2014

So far our study at the University of Pretoria has shown that a ready-to-eat composite meal made using pre-cooked indigenous flour has similar nutritional value to foreign convenience foods, such as maize- and soya-based instant meals. Produced from two of the oldest crops in Africa where foreign crops often fail, a sorghum and cowpea ready-to-eat composite meal will have many benefits in rural communities.

This tan-coloured flour in a single-serving packet, when mixed with hot milk or water, offers children between the ages of two and five the energy and nutrients to meet their recommended dietary allowances.

twist and turn benefit meet 2014

Hopefully, since the meal is the same colour as the original sorghum and cowpea, it stands a good chance of being accepted. Using indigenous grains to make ready-to-eat foods means that they are easily accessible to the people living in rural communities; they are also as nutritious as those manufactured and consumed in developed communities. Also, rural people will be more likely to consume a product that they already know.

twist and turn benefit meet 2014