How do charity groups help tackle food poverty in Cardiff?

Many charities in Cardiff are offering emergency food parcels or hot meals to people suffering from food poverty.

Rainbow of Hope provides each individual in need with two food parcels.

Twenty percent of people in Wales face hunger because they do not have enough money, according to research from the Trussell Trust.

Various charity groups in Cardiff offer emergency food parcels or hot meals to anyone who is experiencing food poverty, aiming to support their survival and health.

“Charities like Rainbow of Hope, FoodCycle in Cardiff are providing life-saving projects to us. I can only thank them for that little bit of a safe haven. Otherwise, I would probably end up robbing, going to shoplifting to just feed myself,” said Salma Begum, a homeless individual who faces food poverty.

“These days, I’m surviving on nothing but water and tea, and even that I have to ration my biscuits for the whole week, so that I can put some solid food into my body, not just liquids,” she added.

People of all ages are likely to experience food poverty. “When I first started doing it several years ago, it was only about older people. But now, it can be anyone, both young people and old people,” said Elizabeth Perret-Atkins, founder of the charity Rainbow of Hope.

The issue of food poverty is caused by numerous factors. Alexander Jones, a PhD researcher at Cardiff University specialising in food poverty in Wales, said, “It’s a prominent issue, especially in deprived communities. Now, it is exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, cost of living crisis and even Brexit as well.”

Food access is one of the major factors leading to food poverty in the country. “Food in some communities was only provided at local corner shops or convenient stores, which could be a lot of harder for older people to get access to food, especially during times when transportation links become a problem,” said Alex.

Individuals in need can apply for a voucher and redeem it for emergency food parcels at the Cardiff Foodbank. However, getting a voucher is not an easy process. “There’s a long applying process and you will be asked for a lot of information. I can only get a voucher once every three months,” said Mahdi Eltahir, who drove a long way to collect food from there.

However, Mahdi was happy to receive the food. “I’ve lost my job since the pandemic. I have three kids. I’m in the benefit. The food should last for three weeks,” he said.

The Rainbow of Hope provides both hot meals and food parcels for the public. “Anyone in need can come in. They can have food and drink,” said Elizabeth. “It’s also a place people can sit down and have a chat with their friends.”

The charity also brings comfort to people, improving their mental health. “For the New Year, they (the staff) also said they would send us an amazing Christmas meal. We’re like a family here,” said Janey Lawrence, a homeless individual who has been coming here for meals for two months and is fighting her addiction to alcohol.

There are many people relying on the charities. “When we put food out, we can expect if we put 30 to 40 dishes up, the majority of the food is gone in an hour. So, it’s very popular,” said Jacob Crofts, the manager of Cathays Community Fridge.

People’s lack of knowledge or awareness of healthy food is also a problem. “People who suffer from obesity also suffer from food poverty. They are ignorant or don’t understand what good food is or what bad food is. I think people need to be educated,” said Jacob.

The charity groups also face challenges, such as a lack of donation sources. “If we want to continue down the road of relying on charities and social enterprises to tackle the problem, they need to be given necessary resources,” said Alex.