At this time of year when pancakes are likely to be on the menu and chocolate eggs are everywhere in the shops, it is heart-breaking to know that one in eight of British adults worry about being able to afford sufficient food.
What has come to be called ‘food poverty’ is a growing issue and is one that has seen charities such as the Together Network – run by the Church Urban Fund (CUF) – look to help address this by working with churches across the country.
Some examples of great food initiatives I’ve come across are a ‘community fridge’ scheme in Southwark, where communities can access food that would otherwise go to waste. There’s also the national ‘Make Lunch’ programmes and breakfast clubs that offer free meals for children who can’t access the free school meals during holidays. Plus the growing number of food banks with supplies on offer to local communities.
Despite the growth of these provisions, many still go hungry. The problem isn’t a lack of ideas or willingness to help – it is often the funding of these projects that prevents them helping more people in need and that is why we turned to pancakes.
How can pancakes help make a difference?
Several years ago, CUF launched an initiative called the ‘Big Pancake Party’ which is an easy way for people to raise funds to support the fight against food poverty. The premise is simple: provide pancakes (cook if you can, buy in some ready-made if you can’t) and invite people in the local community to eat the pancakes. Everyone who comes is encouraged to make a small donation and the money goes to help feed those who would otherwise struggle.
This year, as Shrove Tuesday approaches it would be easy for your youth or children’s group, church or organisation to get involved. You just need access to a kitchen. We’ve put together a fun-filled resource pack to help you organise a Big Pancake Party, with essentials like promo posters, invitation templates, games ideas and recipes. Have a look at: bigpancakeparty.org.uk.
If you get involved this year, you’ll be in good company as Great British Bake-Off finalist Kim-Joy recently added her support to the campaign saying: “I've joined the Big Pancake Party because I don't want to just take for granted that I have food every day - I want to help other people who don't have that. It's so sad to think that there are people who are hungry, that's a basic need. I think the Together Network does some amazing work - it's not just about giving people a package of food, they empower people.”
The Big Pancake Parties arranged by CUF have so far helped hundreds of people access food and support nationwide. It really is a great way for groups of all shapes and sizes to make a difference. We as Christians have a remit to help feed the poor – as Jesus said: “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat” (Matthew 25:35). I’m not sure he was talking about pancakes but it’s possible!
is head of communications at the Church Urban Fund. He is involved in local church youth work, contributes to the Concrete think tank on ‘young people & masculinity’ and is a trustee of the youth support charity, Phase.