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No one who has experienced food poverty would stand by and let it spread like this

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I’ll never forget trying to feed myself and my son on £10 a week. I was a single mum, absolutely skint and living hand to mouth, even after I started working as a trainee reporter for the Southend Echo, following 18 long months of looking for a job.

So, for those first shifts until a pay cheque arrived, food meant a Tupperware tub of cold pasta with a spoonful or two of cheap pasta sauce from a jar, which, weirdly, is cheaper than buying tinned tomatoes to make your own. And, when you’ve got no money, every pinch of herbs or flavour becomes a luxury.

Years later, although my circumstances are better now, I still feel guilty about using too many ingredients in one dish, and I hoard dried pasta and canned tomatoes for rainy days – a whole monsoon, judging by my store cupboard. Dried pasta can be had for 20p to 30p for half a kilo and if, like me, you were feeding two mouths for £1.40 a day, every penny saved was a penny towards something else.

Britain is a country where food poverty is an almost invisible national scandal. Almost invisible because, although we see the food bank boxes at the end of the supermarket checkouts when we shop, the people who are going hungry tend to tuck themselves away. The stigma and shame of poverty, and of not being able to afford to feed yourself and your family, means that people sometimes don’t seek help, they don’t talk about their situation.

I hid my circumstances from friends and family for almost a year before one of my blog posts went viral and they found out. People were upset that I hadn’t asked for help, but I didn’t want to admit how much I was struggling. I was worried they might think I was an unfit parent, and I........

© The Guardian

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