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Could You Live on £18 a Week?

Learning that a Leicester mother had to feed her entire family – including three young children –with £18 a week has inspired three Leicester professionals to live within this budget themselves to mark National Poverty and Actional Homelessness Week 2013.

Susan McEniff of Leicester Charity Link and Rachel Hargrave and Zeenat Sabur of The Phoenix Partners, will live on a food budget of £18 for an entire week from Monday January 28.

Rachel Hargrave, agency director of the Sileby brand, design and PR agency, said: “As a vegan my weekly food shop doesn’t tend to be too expensive so I thought I would find keeping within the £18 limit fairly easy – how wrong I was.

“While usually I wouldn’t think twice about picking up a bunch of bananas, I had to put them back when shopping for the food challenge as I simply could not afford them. It was just a taster of what thousands of families in our county face just not just as a one-off but every single week.

“I find it truly distressing that any family is faced with the debilitating feeling of having to put back basic foods that most of us take for granted.”

One of the key issues those living below the poverty line face is providing nutritious meals within their budget. Susan McEniff, director of marketing and fundraising, said: “I was apprehensive to take part in this challenge as I knew it would be extremely difficult to eat healthy, nutritious, meals for only £18 a week. My only consolation is that I do not have to attempt to feed my whole family on £18 a week.”

Rachel’s daily meals will consist of porridge for breakfast, vegetables soups for lunch and lentil dahls for dinner. Apples and oranges will make up snacks between meals. Susan’s meals will consist of poached eggs and toast for breakfast, soup for lunch and a pasta based dish of risotto for dinner.

When putting together their food diaries the trio received the assistance of registered dietician, Nikki Leigh Hill who said of the challenge: “Those attempting to take part in the food challenge should consider a complex carbohydrate based breakfast cereal such as porridge or wheat biscuits which will keep their energy levels up for a long morning hard at work!

“Tinned veg – which all three have included in their weekly food budget – is a good way of aiming for your five-a-day without the risk of wastage. Tinned tomatoes and beans can be used in many dishes such as cottage pies and bolognaise.

“Rachel has chosen plenty of lentils and this is a cheap way to get protein into her vegan diet and tinned and dried beans & pulses are also a good source of protein.”

The plight of those living below the poverty line – which includes 26,000 children in Leicester alone – has also inspired The Phoenix Partners to organise a charity abseil which is hoped will raise £10,000 for Leicester Charity Link. The abseil is due to take place at the Ramada Encore in Leicester on Saturday March 9 and abseilers are still needed to take part.

The Phoenix Partners is also putting together a recipe book with recipes from the county’s top chefs for meals that are designed to feed a family of four for £5. Among chefs who have agreed to contribute is The City Rooms’ as well The Belmont’s head chefs.

Susan added: “This challenge is to highlight the fact that food poverty is getting even more common place within our community as food costs rise and simultaneously demands on our services and food banks increase. Here we are in 2013 and we still have children going without a breakfast or dinner.

“We don’t have all the solutions but, with your support, we can help those who are the most vulnerable in our community.”

To take part in the upcoming abseil or to find out about other ways in which you can help during National Poverty Week please contact Zeenat Sabur via email on zeenat@thephoenixpartners.com. For more information on Leicester Charity Link please visit http://www.charity-link.org/