Wednesday 9 December 2009

Feed a mouth, not a bin

So first of all, just an update on man-pair-gate. I've found one! He is 25, from Romania, a qualified paediatric nurse, has worked at his mother's kindergarten since he was 15, is more than happy to cook (loves baking apparently) and clean, loves sports and is very excited about being a big brother to my two boys. He is mature, sensible, flexible, accommodating and seems ever so nice. He starts in Feb. How excited am I?? Very.

The ladies in the village are even more excited as they think they're going to get a young stud muffin for some eye candy. He's ok looking but not quite what I think they're imagining. And they're already queuing up for his babysitting and gardening services.

So here goes my first foray into having a complete stranger living in the house with me. Obviously my husband had to do that while I sailed across the ocean with the Mrs Doubtfire nanny, but this is different. I shall no doubt be reporting back frequently on how it's all going.

Now, onto a slightly more serious subject.

Today a letter from the World Children's Fund came in through the letterbox. I get so much of this type of mail that it usually goes straight into the bin. But the picture on the outside of the letter broke my heart. It was of a baby in Sudan that was little more than skin and bones. Part of me was angry that they would send out such provocative direct mail. But part of me thought: hang on, maybe this is the truth of what's happening outside of our cossetted little world and perhaps this is the only way to be heard.

I spent some time looking at their website and started to reach for my cheque book (which is attached to an account that is fairly lacking in funds) but then I thought, hang on, isn't there something bigger I can do. Then the phone rang, and I had to stop the thought process and keep working.

But it came back to me tonight, having fed my children juicy beef burgers in squishy buns with piles of crunchy salad. One of my children refused to eat the burger because 'he doesn't like meat' and the other refused to eat the bun because 'it had seeds on', then refused to eat the burger because it had been cut up in the wrong shape pieces.

It was at this point that the red rage descended and I might have gone a bit OTT on the lesson giving. Because quite regularly I hear myself saying: "There are starving children in Africa you know", but what is 'starving' and where is Africa to these well fed children of mine? So I got the picture out and showed it to them. I pointed out that THAT was a starving child in Africa and THAT is what it meant to have no food and THAT is why they are ungrateful little beasts who could either eat what they're given or go bloody hungry.

They opted to go hungry.

But then it occurred to me. Every day up and down the country there must be parents spending a bomb in Tescos and Sainsburys etc buying food for their children (and themselves) that ends up in the bin. And the idea came to me. Perhaps I could start a 'Feed a mouth, not a bin' campaign. It's still just a nugget of an idea and I haven't worked out the logistics at all, but here's an example:

Instead of cooking as much food as you normally would for your children - if they are big wasters - cook half. That way, you only waste half as much food (good for the environment) and spend half as much money. The money you save (at least some of it) can be donated to a charity that helps feed starving children.

So in tonight's burger example, I bought a four pack of burgers for about £2.50. I froze the whole pack, instead of freezing them individually. So I defrosted all four. And cooked all four. I ate one. My husband is away so there was one spare. The kids had one each, both of which went in the bin. I could have cooked just two. One for me, one to be split between my children on the off chance they'd actually eat some. That would leave me with two burgers for another meal. Which means that I actually would have spent only £1.25 on this meal instead of £2.50. I could donate that £1.25 or just generally cut the cost of my grocery bill. Which would mean I have a bit of extra money each month. And if I could then use some of that extra money to feed a mouth instead of a bin, I could be helping lots of very hungry children.

I know it needs work, but I really think it's an idea that has legs. I'm sure that in these economic times, people would like to hang onto any monetary savings to help them pay for other things. Fair enough. But I'm equally sure there are many mothers out there like me who can't bear the thought of starving children who have nothing, while their own children waste, who'd be willing to support it.

So who's with me? Anyone?


Susan Odev said...

Melissa, This is a powerful concept there is so much waste in this country.

There are six of us and my Hubby insists on seeing the table strain under the array of food. That's his upbringing and means that we are living an abundant life but most of it ends up in the bin or in the dog!

I would love to cut my grocery bill in half and if that means I have some to spare for children in greater need - that's great!

So I love the idea but making in work in practice would require a major lifestyle shift.

Home Office Mum said...

I know Susan - it's the lifestyle shift that is the problem. I know it's probably not something I'd be able to take on but I think it's an idea worth floating as a campaign idea to one of the charities. If nothing else, I can attempt to live it myself

nappy valley girl said...

I think it's a great idea. My children waste so much too. (Although on the occasions I cook a tiny amount for them, of course, they are always incredibly hungry and want more....)

Potty Mummy said...

I love it. Keep me updated on your thinking and I'll back you to the hilt, I promise. (Even if my blog still isn't on your blog roll...;)

Home Office Mum said...

It is Potty, it is!!! I put it there. Check again.

And Nappy Valley - our house is EXACTLY the same. The minute I don't cook much, they find their appetites.

Aunty Ollie said...

Hi Melissa

I've only just seen this blog!

It's a great idea and might work as something short term eg as a school/nursery charity event.

Probably when you've done it for a week for example you realise how much is thrown out and that would encourage longer term change?

And don't get me started on lunchboxes. I pack for the days the kids say they're so starving but most days so much gets chucked...

Home Office Mum said...

hey Jodie

yeah - this was for a long time my secret blog. Now it's not secret anymore :-)

I was thinking a week long campaign. encourage people to try for one week to waste less, spend less and save money to give to a charity that feeds people. Am definitely going to look into it.

Sam said...

Hi Melissa, I agree. There are so so many very worthy charities out there but feeding starving children really ought to be a priority along with clean drinking water. Keep us posted. I'm happy to help in anyway possible.

katyboo1 said...

It sounds fab in principle. I will keep reading and backing you up.xx

angelsandurchinsblog said...

When I have extra children in the house, I'm always struck by how rarely I cook extra food. Somehow, what I'm already cooking always stretching to another mouth, and if there are two or more extra visitors, then I just up one thing (veg, mash etc) rather than add endless fish fingers to the mix, only to have them dumped in the bin. I totally support your campaign, and it's given me, er, food for thought.

Pete said...

Hi - a friend of mine told me about your blog and idea - a quick google of the Oxfam website reveals that you can feed a family for a week for £7. At the moment lots of organisations are concentrating their aid programmes on Haiti - see for more. Emergencies are always the most urgent appeals and DEC coordinates between the different agencies depending on their skills on the ground.

Plus there's a blogger at Oxfam who's been writing about interesting ways to fundraise

Drop me a line if you want to get in contact (I work there in the campaigns team)