Preston foodbank hits back at Conservative MP Lee Anderson after he says users 'cannot cook' or 'budget'.

Volunteers from Preston foodbanks have hit back at a Tory MP who claimed that people who use the facilities do not know how to cook or manage their finances properly.

By Catherine Musgrove
Thursday, 12th May 2022, 3:45 pm

Lee Anderson, Conservative MP for Ashfield, made the remarks during a House of Commons debate.

He said: "I think you will see first hand that there's not this massive use for food banks in this country but generation after generation who cannot cook properly, they can't cook a meal from scratch.

"They cannot budget."

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Taz Ali of Preston food bank and community hub

He was accused of insulting people who are struggling to feed their families and Labour said it was "beyond belief".

>>>Heat or Eat: Click here to read why people are having to make that choice in Lancashire

A volunteer for Preston’s Noor Food Bank said: “The man’s in cloud cukoo land. These are not the people who are coming to our food bank.

"He’s saying that people are lazy and can’t cook. While there may be one out of 10 who take the mick, the vast majority are proud people who are trying, have diginity, and want to do the best for their families.”

Captain Debbie Eaton and Captain Dominic Eaton at the Salvation Army in Preston where the shelves are almost empty as referrals continue to rise

He added that the rising cost of fuel can deter people from cooking, and busy lives of working parents also affects time available to prepare meals.

Mr Anderson also urged others to follow the example set by a food bank in his constituency where people need to register for a budgeting and a cooking course when they go for a food parcel.

The Noor volunteer said: “If he wants to send the resources to do that, then we’ll look at it. We are a group of five volunteers who all work full time, and all of the money we get is spent on the food and our van.”

He added: “Younger people might not have the skills to cook and budget, so lets teach these things at school.

Lee Anderson has been criticised for his ‘crass’ comments on food banks (Photo: UK Parliament)

"This MP is perfectly placed to influence this, but instead is totally shifting the responsibility.”

Taz Ali, organiser of the Foodbank at Preston Community Hub, said he and fellow volunteers have previously given out recipe ideas to people, but often the food available is “pot luck” and can’t be depended upon.

>>>The Foodbank at Preston Community Hub needs tinned goods. Click here for details on how to help.

He said Mr Anderson’s comments were “a kick in the teeth” for volunteers.

He said: “He’s not in touch with the common person. The Government need to look long and hard at themselves and take some responsibility.

"They need to invest in grassroots, go back to basics. I think budgeting lessons should be included in school PSHE (Personal, Social, Health, and Economic education) lessons.”

Captain Dominic Eaton of Preston's Salvation Army, said his food bank was “constantly struggling” for donations, and recently had struggled for basic items.

He said: “A month ago, for the first time, we ran out of tinned tomatoes and soup. These are staple things and we always seem to have plenty.

"But there are other demands on people’s charitable giving now – and that is right – but it has an impact.

"People have less to give, and the cost of foods is going up, so it’s a double-whammy.”

He added: “Offering cookery classes or budgeting tips isn’t something that we have done yet, but it would be a good thing and it would help.

"But you can’t suddenly decide to do that, you need resources such as kitchen facilities and people with the right skills.”

Need help?

Details on the Salvation Army food bank can be found here.

Help can also be accessed at Citzens Advice here and the Noor Food Bank can be contacted here.