Reflections on the Breadline Challenge

So, here it is – the final day of the 2015 Breadline Challenge.  At times I thought it’d never get here, but here I am.  Hallelujah.  Tomorrow morning, I’ll be enjoying that strong, black coffee I’ve been fantasising about all week – and tucking into an avocado (one thing I’ve missed like mad).  I won’t have to ration banana halves any more.  I’ll basically go back to normal (whatever normal looks like), although I’m pretty sure I’ll be thinking much more carefully about my food and how I shop for and prepare it.  And how I waste it.

This week has taught me a lot.  I’ve been reminded all week just how much I enjoy vegetarian food, and how easy it is to eat very little or no meat at all.  That’s definitely something I’m going to take away from this week – in fact, I’ve already signed a pledge to become a part-time carnivore and reduce the amount I eat to just two days a week (max).

Also – sugar. Really, really not good for you.  Seems like common sense, I know, but the difference it’s made reducing my sugar intake even for a few days has been incredible.  I’ve slept better, my energy levels have been more stable. My ability to focus has improved. That weird crampy thing my toes do most mornings – gone.  I’m not sure about cutting out altogether, but I can certainly see the benefits of a low-sugar diet.

I’ve been reminded that food isn’t just fuel, something just to get you from one day to the next.  It’s something to be enjoyed with others, and everyone should have a right to that – whatever their income. We need more community meals like those provided by FoodCycle – not just for ‘the needy’ but for all of us.  Many’s the time I’ve stood out on Hills Road, touting for FoodCycle business (and with the food waste angle, let’s face it, FoodCycle’s a pretty easy sell) – only to be told ‘Well, I think it’s a wonderful idea, but I don’t really need it’.  Sure you do.

Also, where they aren’t already, food banks have to start distributing fresh food.  After all, we’re producing enough food for everyone. More than enough, in fact.  Food banks provide such an important service, and keep almost a million households’ heads above water – but there’s always room for improvement.  I had a really interesting discussion last week with our local food bank about the possibility of them doing a fresh food pilot, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

So, what next?

Well, I’m going to keep volunteering with FoodCycle.  In fact, I’m visiting FoodCycle Bristol this coming weekend – it’s very easy to get wrapped up in our own hub ‘bubble’, and I’m looking forward to seeing how FoodCycle works in other places (I’ve already visited FoodCycle LSE and Norwich).  I’m also off to Bradford soon to visit another project, The Storehouse, that provides a central hub storing surplus food that can be then redistributed to feed the people who need it.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to drop into the Saltaire Canteen, one of their collaborators, while I’m there too.  It’s really inspiring to see so much great stuff happening across the UK.

I’m absolutely convinced there’s more that can be done here in Cambridge.  We need a central hub, like The Storehouse, to co-ordinate things – sometimes it can feel a little like the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing.  Where would a food hub go?  Well, isn’t that the million dollar question?  Cambridge isn’t well known for being the best in terms of property prices or availability.  But doesn’t mean that it can’t happen, or that we shouldn’t try.

Anyway, enough of the heavy stuff – here are my final lessons from the Breadline Challenge.

  1. I can actually survive without cheese.
  2. There really is such a thing as too much porridge.
  3. Mushroom mince is the future.
  4. One person’s sour milk is another person’s yoghurt scones (or something like that).
  5. Never let your tea go cold.
  6. Sniffing a cake is not the same as eating one.
  7. Peanut butter and mashed potato candies should be avoided at all costs.  As should peanut butter smoothies.
  8. FoodCycle is brilliant*.

Thanks for reading!


*If you’d like to support your local FoodCycle, come along and join us for a meal.  We’re at St Paul’s on Hills Road every Saturday from 12 and at Barnwell Baptist Church on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month from 6.00 p.m.  Hope to see you there soon!



2 thoughts on “Reflections on the Breadline Challenge

  1. Hello. A very well big done on the whole thing. Blogs are a really good read, I know it’s not easy summarising all the experiences and reflections. Hopefully they will have helped spread the various messages to at least a few more people. Dead impressed with your creativity to make interesting food even on the limited budget! Off to study that mushroom mince recipe…. : ) Good luck with further developments in Cambridge, there’s still much further to go with the food waste… Jon (Sheffield Mind)

    Liked by 1 person

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