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Baroness Jenkin apologises after claiming “poor people don’t know how to cook” at launch of report into hunger

Baroness Jenkin of Kennington

Baroness Jenkin of Kennington

A peer has apologised after claiming “poor people don’t know how to cook” as she helped launch a report looking at why food aid has dramatically increased over the last decade.

Baroness Jenkin, who is married to Essex MP Bernard Jenkin, said that one of the reasons people needed charity was because they were unable to prepare meals for themselves.

She said at the event hunger stemmed in part from the disappearance of the knowledge needed to create cheap and nourishing meals.

“We have lost our cooking skills,” said Lady Jenkin. “Poor people don’t know how to cook.

“I had a large bowl of porridge today, which cost 4p. A large bowl of sugary cereals will cost you 25p.”

But she later apologised on a BBC lunchtime radio show, saying she had “made a mistake” and had been “stupidly speaking unscripted”.

The comments came as leading church figures, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, joined politicians from across Parliament to launch a blueprint to eliminate hunger in Britain by 2020.

The Feeding Britain report was prompted by concern over the “unprecedented” numbers of people depending on food banks in the UK.

It called for action to speed the processing of benefits to ensure new claimants are not left for weeks without an income; stop “rip-off” companies charging higher prices to the poor; and end the “scandal” which sees millions of tonnes of waste food destroyed by supermarkets and food manufacturers.

Despite the “astonishing” levels of food being binned, hunger “stalks large parts” of the country, the Most Rev Justin Welby warned ahead of the publication of the report.

The All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the UK found that, since the establishment of the Trussell Trust network in 2004, numbers of emergency food assistance providers have grown to at least 1,500, including 800 food banks - around half of them operated by the Trust.

The Department for Work and Pensions has previously argued that there is “no robust evidence” to suggest that welfare reforms or benefit administration are linked to increased use of food banks.

Those opening up new food banks say they are responding to a need that has always existed but that welfare reform has exacerbated. But critics say food banks opening up and offering free food only creates more demand.

Earlier this year Lord Tebbit said “there is always a near-infinite demand for valuable goods that are given away free”.

He also implied that those relying for their basic foods on food banks were spending their money on junk food.

5 comments

  • Why did she apologise? She is correct. The poor have lost the art of cooking. You can create a wholesome nourishing meal for pennies if you try. The poors version of cooking these days seems to stop at counting how many mcnuggets are in the box!

    Report this comment

    Waddaloada

    Monday, December 8, 2014

  • There is a huge waste of food at home and in the supermarkets, however perhaps Baroness Jenkin should try thinking before speaking especially if it's unscripted, many people do waste food, can't cook or buy fast foods but many just don't have the money due to delays with benefits, unemployment or poor monetary skills which doesn't detract from their need to feed their family. Perhaps she would like to see the return of the workhouse.

    Report this comment

    christopher haslop

    Monday, December 8, 2014

  • Well said Grey Fox. I have been having a discussion about this somewhere else today and I have been shocked at the ill and misinformed responses of those contributing. I am glad this lady has apologised. I was pilloried for words of support to those running and using foodbanks. Whatever has happened to people?

    Report this comment

    Debbie Plummer

    Monday, December 8, 2014

  • Just shows how awfully out of touch one is in terms of reality. Shame that dreadfull recession and beastly banking and financial crisis which almost destroyed our economy, countless businesses and millions of proper jobs and blighted the lives of millions of our citizens occurred. In simple economic terms however there are some fundamental problems. The wages and pensions in this country are amongst the lowest in Europe. The prices of essential items including food, housing prices, fuel and travel etc are amongst the highest. This obviously has serious implications for poorer citizens and those on fixed incomes such as pensioners. It is sad that someone should make such comments. The majority of poor people have to be able to cook in order to survive. They cannot cook if they cannot afford to buy ingredients. It is a good job there are volunteers out there who help to run the ever increasing numbers of food bank facilities. The recently televised program 'Do You Know How Rich You really are' gave a good, frank and accurate assessment of what the real problem is in our country.

    Report this comment

    Grey Fox

    Monday, December 8, 2014

  • Breath taking arrogance. One should not assume that all poor people are stupid or ignorant. From the times when the robber Barons first ruined this country certain unfortunate and poor people have had to work hard at feeding and fending for their families and would not have survived if they could not get and prepare food to feed themselves. It is a national disgrace that in one of worlds richest countries people; mostly through no fault of their own have to rely on foodbanks. It is a good job that there are volunteers who work tirelessly to help run these facilities and support our citizens. The bankers and many others who collectively brought the economy to a state of collapse, destroyed companies and jobs and brought untold misery and suffering to millions of people are perhaps the ones who need to hone their skills.

    Report this comment

    Grey Fox

    Monday, December 8, 2014

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