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‘Let them eat spuds!’ Ex-UKIP candidate says food banks are fuelling the obesity crisis

PUBLISHED: 13:05 16 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:30 16 January 2019

Catherine Blaiklock, UKIP parliamentary candidate, Great Yarmouth, General Election 2017. Photo: George Ryan

Catherine Blaiklock, UKIP parliamentary candidate, Great Yarmouth, General Election 2017. Photo: George Ryan

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The former UKIP parliamentary candidate for Great Yarmouth claims that food banks are contributing to obesity and that the poor “cannot be bothered” to cook.

Writing online for The Conservative Woman, Catherine Blaiklock argues that no-one in Britain should be starving because potatoes are cheap at her farm shop and living on nothing but boiled potatoes would be healthier than being handed a box of products in tins and packets.

Addressing claims that millions of people struggle to put food on the table she compares the plight of Britain’s poorest families with the Sherpas in the Himalayas who eat “practically nothing but boiled potatoes with a bit of salt and chilli on the side.”

“You get bored with both the eating and peeling long before you could possibly get obese,” she adds.

The column carries the headline Hungry? Let them eat spuds! echoing the words supposedly spoken by Marie Antoinette when she learned the peasants had no bread.

It goes on to argue that it is not the cost of food that is the problem but the people who consume it.

Catherine Blaiklock stood for the far-right Eurosceptic party in Yarmouth in 2017.

Described at the time as running a guest house in Lingwood, near Acle, she took a photograph of her black husband to a hustings in an apparent bid to prove the party is not racist.

MORE: Ukip candidate in Great Yarmouth shows audience a photo of her Jamaican husband in bid to dispense perceptions of racism in her party

Her comments come as a school in Great Yarmouth took the step to set up its own food banks for families who had run out of money to buy food.

She writes: “The problem is not lack of food or the cost of it in this country: indeed food has probably never been so relatively cheap or in such vast quantities.

“But a visit to the food bank of the type that millions are supposed to rely on shows you the problem.

“It is full of cans of sweet custard and packets of PopTarts and the like.

“They do not stock raw potatoes because they might ‘go off.’

“The Trussell Trust, one of the UK’s largest food bank charities makes up parcels of ‘three days’ nutritionally balanced, non-perishable food.’

“That cuts out all those cheap eggs and potatoes, even though these items actually last weeks.

“Does tinned fruit in sugar syrup really count as nutritional?

“The problem is much more basic. People have chaotic lives.

“They spend money on the wrong things.

“They do not cook and it would seem many cannot cook.

“If the numbers are anything to go by they cannot even be bothered to buy and cook some potatoes or an egg for their hungry children.”

MORE: Primary school sets up food bank to support children ‘too hungry to learn’

She goes on to say food banks are creating a dependent, obese population and should instead teach people how to shop for raw ingredients.

The piece ends with her re-working of the saying about giving a man the means to catch a fish and he will be able to feed his whole family for a lifetime.

She says it should be updated to: “Give a woman a food bank parcel and she will feed her children for a day (as well as making them sick and obese).

“Give a woman a sack of potatoes, a box of eggs, and a cooking lesson and she will feed her children nutritiously for a whole week and won’t need to come back next week.”

Her ideas were met with warm approval from readers on the site.

One respondent said: “Absolutely spot on. No need whatsoever for kids to go hungry.”

Another added: “A related issue (and another growing faux charity industry) is the provision of free sanitary products to women, especially younger ones who increasingly, it seems “can’t afford them”. I wonder how many of these same girls have an obesity problem?”

‘Foodbanks do offer fresh food’

The Trussell Trust whose network of foodbanks provides emergency food and support to people in crisis, responded to the piece saying food parcels were balanced.

A spokesman said: “Foodbanks in our network use standard packing lists for each emergency food parcel that goes to someone in crisis.

“This is to ensure a balanced supply of food is provided to everyone referred.

“Nutrition guidelines change over time, so we’re continually consulting with nutritionists to check our parcel still meets recommendations for emergency provision.

“On average, people come to a Trussell Trust foodbank twice in a year, so parcels really are for short-term use.

“On top of the standard parcel, many foodbanks in our network do offer fresh food where they are able to safely – for example, fruit, vegetables, eggs and bread, and this is something we’re working with our network to develop further.

“Ultimately, the best thing is for people to have enough money to make their own choices about what to buy. That has to be our end goal. We want to see a future where there is no need for foodbanks.

“This is why we’re determined to continue tackling the root causes of hunger and poverty in the long term.

“People may only come to a foodbank in our network twice in a year, but that is two times too many.”

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