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ME/CFS and the Poverty Diet

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by Jody Smith



Chronic illness and the Poverty Diet often go together. Far too often. I was on the Poverty Diet for many years. I have ME/CFS, my husband Alan deals with crippling past injuries and fibromyalgia. We raised our children on the Poverty Diet during more than half their childhoods.

It is a no-brainer (pardon the ME/CFS pun) that when you can't work, you aren't making any money. It is less obvious, to many who haven't been through it, that people who can't work because of poor health are not automatically protected by any kind of federal safety net - social, financial or otherwise.

Alan and I had no such safety net provided by our government. We were luckier than some in that a few family members would contribute food and money to our household, some occasionally, and some on a regular basis. But even with such philanthropy, there was never enough money to pay all our bills and buy adequate food. Not for years on end.

We were experts on squeezing everything possible out of a nickel. We could feed a family of seven on three dollars a day. Not well, but enough to fill everyone's bellies. We sought out the day-old bread, the sales. We bought stuff we didn't much like because it was cheap. We bought white bread, noodles, margarine, few vegetables, rarely fruit or juices. Meat was cheap cuts and not too much of it.

As you may imagine, people who are sick to start with and who must live on the Poverty Diet for years, even decades, are being set up for worse health problems than they started with. A little over 10 years ago, I stumbled upon the Low Carb Diet, and learned that it worked much better for me than the Poverty Diet. We were in a situation for a couple of years when we could afford to buy the appropriate foods, and I began to feel better, to think better, and lost 50 pounds in the process.

Five years ago our finances took a solid dive and we were all on the Poverty Diet again. We were able in those days to pay only about 25 percent of our bills each month, juggling payments wildly, and somehow managing not to be without light or heat, or foreclosed upon. We wished we could live on our old Poverty Diet once again. We aspired to one day be able to afford the Poverty Diet we'd choked down in the past.

To eat, we went to the local food bank. This meant we only had to come up with a few dollars for groceries each month. But there was a problem with the Food Bank Diet, which is, let's face it, another version of the Poverty Diet.


This is not the fault of those who work in the food banks. We were so grateful that these wonderful people cared about what happened to us. We weren't used to people caring anymore. Being allowed to walk in there and be given food with no strings attached, no suspicion, no judgment, made me weep the first time I went in. They were so decent, and we hadn't seen a lot of that in awhile.

The problem with the food bank was that most of the food was processed, high carb, lots of bread, bagged noodles, boxed noodles with powdered sauces, boxes of cereal, potatoes, rice ... None of which I can safely eat.

There was some protein. A dozen eggs, a package or two of hot dogs, cans of tuna, cartons of milk, there would be enough to keep me going ... for a few days out of each month. Cans of green beans or peas, tomato sauce, frozen carrots, cheese and peanut butter, all contributed in a limited fashion to some nutritional health. But most of the time I was eating canned spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, plain rice and noodles with margarine.

I gained back 30 of the pounds I'd lost on the Low Carb Diet before the Food Bank Diet. One winter I contended with hair falling out, and distressing pains, sparks, swirling sensations and little explosions in my nervous system.

The more I partook of this Diet, the worse my cognitive problems became. I would have food-induced panic attacks after too much wheat at a time. I was hungry all the time, while I was slowly gaining weight. Eating a dish of rice would leave me hungrier after I ate it than if I had eaten nothing at all, apparently due to my inability to properly metabolize most carbs.

The only other option, though, was to not eat at all. So even though I could feel myself sliding health-wise, cognitively, and said goodbye once more to my girlish figure ... it could have been worse. For some people it is worse. I know some people who can't work due to health issues, live in poverty and who manage on less than we had. But they are paying the penalty as their overall health is pushed further downhill.

We went to the food bank for three years. I started my ME/CFS website Ncubator.ca during the Food Bank Diet years, some months later I started my job while still on the diet. We were on the Food Bank Diet during the couple of years when I worked part time, and for a while after I hit full time hours. And now, it has been almost two years since my family and I have been able to walk away from the Food Bank Diet.

It is a wonderful thing to be able to eat decently. And apparently it is a privilege, not a right. Because many people are stuck with a Poverty Diet ... and many others even less fortunate can only aspire to attain it some day. But it seems to me that everyone should be able to move beyond the Poverty Diet and its kindly-meant counterpart, the Food Bank Diet, and have a decent chance to heal.

What kind of diet has ME/CFS brought into your home?


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Comments

I've been lucky so far, in that my fiance can afford to feed us both very well. I'm limited in my ability to cook, so we buy pre-chopped meats and vegetables which I can (usually) throw together for dinner along with a bit of rice and some sort of sauce or curry paste.

But if I don't have some meat twice a day, I start to feel very crappy - though the same thing seems to happen if I try to low-carb again, despite low-carb working well in the past. I also have to avoid MSG and its various aliases.

I think I'm also fortunate to be living in the Netherlands, where being unemployed for whatever reason doesn't result in the sort of poverty seen in the US. There's a very good benefits system here, and there's a lot of peace of mind that comes from that, even if it's not needed yet.
 
This is an excellent article. I think it should be seen by a wider audience than here at Phoenix Rising, perhaps as Illness and the Poverty Diet. You might add a paragraph on “what I wish you would donate to the food pantry”.

I work part-time caring for my parents and make enough money to meet my basic needs. I am on the low energy diet. I don’t cook much of anything on the stove except eggs and water for tea. I do use my microwave.

Meat comes from microwave dinners (I buy the better quality brands), cans, the grocery store deli, fast food sandwiches, and the occasional restaurant or deli meal. I also use cheese, peanut butter, nuts, and protein powder, along with my daily breakfast eggs, as protein sources. My iron is low and decreasing. I am trying to eat more red meat.

I get salads from the grocery store deli. I eat a lot of packaged coleslaw mix (without dressing) and carrots. Since developing liver problems, I have bought jars of picked beets which I like to eat cold.

Both of my parents have dementia. Berries and cherries are supposed to be good for the brain, so I buy them - fresh when in season, frozen when not. I eat just half a serving a day since I am a small person (and they are expensive). I also eat applesauce and drink fruit juice.

The quality of my diet is limited more by my energy for meal prep and clean-up than by my finances.
 
I think it used to be well known that what you've called the "Poverty Diet" is the cause of obesity among poor people. I recall my mother commenting (not nicely) that a woman we knew was getting fat because she couldn't afford a high quality diet (had to eat pasta). This was in the '60s, before the stupid "low fat" craze hit the world, leading people to think that carbs were great, as long as fat was avoided. For a fascinating look at why carbs are not good for you, and why people can get fat while being malnourished read Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories. Blew me away. Blew away 50 pounds, too, when I stopped eating carbs.
 
This is an excellent article. I think it should be seen by a wider audience than here at Phoenix Rising, perhaps as Illness and the Poverty Diet. You might add a paragraph on “what I wish you would donate to the food pantry”.
I don't know whether food banks in the US have similar rules to those in the UK, but here we can only donate packaged food. I was very frustrated when I was trying to donate some delicious, fresh surplus apples from my tree. They would not take them. I commented at the time that it was a bad idea to force stressed, poor people to live on processed food with no fresh fruit and veg.

I noted the stark contrast with a TV item on the economic downturn in Greece, where farmers were donating crates of fresh fruit and veg to the poor.
 
I've been lucky so far, in that my fiance can afford to feed us both very well. I'm limited in my ability to cook, so we buy pre-chopped meats and vegetables which I can (usually) throw together for dinner along with a bit of rice and some sort of sauce or curry paste.

But if I don't have some meat twice a day, I start to feel very crappy - though the same thing seems to happen if I try to low-carb again, despite low-carb working well in the past. I also have to avoid MSG and its various aliases.

I think I'm also fortunate to be living in the Netherlands, where being unemployed for whatever reason doesn't result in the sort of poverty seen in the US. There's a very good benefits system here, and there's a lot of peace of mind that comes from that, even if it's not needed yet.

Valentijn,

I have to have meat a couple of times a day too, or I begin to get ill. Eating on the cheap for so many years gets very expensive in the long run when trying to overcome the physical and cognitive problems the Poverty Diet incurs. I used to be able to eat a far wider variety of foods before I got sick.

I'm glad you live somewhere that offers some safety net. I live in Canada which is maybe not quite so bad as in the U.S. We have medical coverage that Americans don't have, just by virtue of being Canadian. Not that it has done me much good since only my naturopath (who isn't covered by the way) has done me any good.

The other advantage here in Canada has been what used to be called the Baby Bonus which all parents receive. Though we never qualified for Welfare or Disability of any kind, the Baby Bonus helped us survive for many years. I would have liked to have been able to put the money aside each month for the kids, for schooling or other things they'd needed growing up but we needed to keep a roof over their heads and food in their bellies, and I don't know how we could have managed that without the Baby Bonus.
 
Great article, Jody.

I hadn't heard of what you describe as being called the 'poverty diet'. It sounds like what is known in the UK as a junk food diet. I'm sure I have come across papers that show that the diet in the UK under 2nd World War rationing was healthy, and I think people ate a less-healthy diet, and thus became less healthy, when rationing ceased. I guess the rations were designed to keep people healthy.

I was malnourished in the early days of ME due to poverty. It was so depressing, making a shopping list, then looking in my purse and crossing almost everything off the list. After a while I was retching as soon as I woke up each morning and had diarrhoea. I had already had IBS for years. Soon I was vomiting every day. So I was not eating healthily, and what I did eat was not used effectively. How on earth was I going to get better and return to work? It sounds much more civilised in the Netherlands, and I believe the same applies in a number of other EU countries. In the UK, and it seems in the US, they seem to think that they can cure the sick by keeping them poor!

I so agree with valentinelynx. Low-carb is the way to go. I too lost excess weight, and symptoms are much milder, some almost gone. My muscles have built up again. I'm not hungry all the time. But my version of low-carb is a vegan one. You can get adequate amounts of almost all nutrients from a balanced vegan diet. Exceptions are Vitamin B12 and, for those with poor conversion of short-chain omega-3s, long-chain omega-3s, but there are vegan supplements of these, with the long-chain omega-3 derived from cultivated algae.
 
This is an excellent article. I think it should be seen by a wider audience than here at Phoenix Rising, perhaps as Illness and the Poverty Diet. You might add a paragraph on “what I wish you would donate to the food pantry”.

I work part-time caring for my parents and make enough money to meet my basic needs. I am on the low energy diet. I don’t cook much of anything on the stove except eggs and water for tea. I do use my microwave.

Meat comes from microwave dinners (I buy the better quality brands), cans, the grocery store deli, fast food sandwiches, and the occasional restaurant or deli meal. I also use cheese, peanut butter, nuts, and protein powder, along with my daily breakfast eggs, as protein sources. My iron is low and decreasing. I am trying to eat more red meat.

I get salads from the grocery store deli. I eat a lot of packaged coleslaw mix (without dressing) and carrots. Since developing liver problems, I have bought jars of picked beets which I like to eat cold.

Both of my parents have dementia. Berries and cherries are supposed to be good for the brain, so I buy them - fresh when in season, frozen when not. I eat just half a serving a day since I am a small person (and they are expensive). I also eat applesauce and drink fruit juice.

The quality of my diet is limited more by my energy for meal prep and clean-up than by my finances.

Little Bluestem,

Your suggestion about an added paragraph might be a good seed of an idea for another article. Thanks.

The low energy diet sucks too. Glad to hear you can afford to eat at least.

My mother's family has dementia in it. I take omega-3 oil and vit. B12 which are supposed to be helpful. Also consider coconut oil. The taste makes me want to retch but it's not the first vile supplement I've taken and learned to live with.:)

Re: dementia. There are researchers thinking that there is a link between dementia and blood sugar. Some call dementia Type 3 diabetes. In which case, carbs would be something to watch for.
 
I think it used to be well known that what you've called the "Poverty Diet" is the cause of obesity among poor people. I recall my mother commenting (not nicely) that a woman we knew was getting fat because she couldn't afford a high quality diet (had to eat pasta). This was in the '60s, before the stupid "low fat" craze hit the world, leading people to think that carbs were great, as long as fat was avoided. For a fascinating look at why carbs are not good for you, and why people can get fat while being malnourished read Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories. Blew me away. Blew away 50 pounds, too, when I stopped eating carbs.

Valentinlynx,

I do remember back before people became insane (self included) about what to eat a quarter of a century ago. And yes, common sense and just using your own eyes told you what eating all that starch and sugar does to most people.

I love Gary Taubes.:) In 2002, I stumbled upon an article about fat that he wrote that changed my life. Before I had to go back on the Poverty Diet a few years ago, I had lost close to 50 lb without dieting or overamping on exercise and the weight was continuing to slowly come off (maybe half a pound a month at that point) five years into the low carb regimen.

And of course, I discovered going low carb that for me, this also led to a major decrease in most of my ME/CFS symptoms as well.
 
Meant to add - I couldn't afford heating AT ALL until recently when I started receiving small occupational pensions after being ill for 18 years. I went through the two recent freezing winters in the UK with almost no heating at all. (What I did have was bought on credit, which I just had to keep building up.) I was going out scavenging firewood in the fields. Three days of that in a row wiped me out for a week. Eventually the over-exertion caught up with me and I was hospitalised for 4 days, having become dangerously hyponatraemic. In the 3 years since then I have been even less able to work than before, although things have gradually improved again since I went low-carb and gluten-free, and been pacing better. So I have been able to earn even less due to over-exertion due to lack of government support.

Since 1995 I have not been able to afford to run a car, and I'm not sure that I would be able to drive far now.

Well done for (not) supporting me back into earning my living again, UK Government. :(
 
The foodbank issues remind me of a store I was shopping at with my mother, when they were holding a food drive for homeless youth. There was a list of the foods the organization wanted, and all of it was processed crap with 0 nutritional value other than calories. Instead of following the list, we donated a canned meat that wasn't too scary - if they're eating poptarts all the time, they could probably use some protein once in a while :p
 
I don't know whether food banks in the US have similar rules to those in the UK, but here we can only donate packaged food. I was very frustrated when I was trying to donate some delicious, fresh surplus apples from my tree. They would not take them. I commented at the time that it was a bad idea to force stressed, poor people to live on processed food with no fresh fruit and veg.

I noted the stark contrast with a TV item on the economic downturn in Greece, where farmers were donating crates of fresh fruit and veg to the poor.

That is too bad about the restrictions at the food bank there. Perhaps they can't handle keeping track of perishables. Processed stuff never goes bad. In a way.:)

I'm not in the U.S., I am in Ontario, Canada. I find though that where I live, different food banks in different towns may operate by different guidelines. Depends on who's funding them I think. The one I went to was run by a couple of women who put together a setup where various stores and other groups donate regularly, and they can decide then (within food safety regulations and whatnot) what they want to offer.

They offer fresh produce which is wonderful. Most of their stuff is supremely processed, and very bad for me. But they welcome fresh food.

Another thing about the diversity among food banks -- If I lived in a town 20 minutes away, I would not have been able to go to their foodbank. That one requires paperwork that shows you are on some kind of assistance, on welfare or disability of some kind. Nobody in my family of three sickies qualify for any of that. So ... there's irony in the fact that when the government's safety nets are closed to you, so are the food banks. And people with nowhere to turn in that town are REALLY screwed.

If I'd had some kind of government assistance maybe I wouldn't have needed the food bank. But because I have no assistance I can't go there?

I have treasured the food bank in my town and the people who run it. I went in the first time with all the paperwork I could think of, fresh from having to offer up validation of my existence repeatedly when looking for some government assistance. I had a wad of bills and stuff in my purse, and started to take it out. But she said I didn't need any of that.

She said, "You're here. You wouldn't be here if you didn't need help. And we want to help you." The tears poured down my face as I let her help me.
 
Also consider coconut oil. The taste makes me want to retch but it's not the first vile supplement I've taken and learned to live with.:)
I love coconut oil! I use it instead of margarine now, and for cooking.

Re: dementia. There are researchers thinking that there is a link between dementia and blood sugar. Some call dementia Type 3 diabetes. In which case, carbs would be something to watch for.
I agree in principle. I focused a lot on dementia in my Masters degree studies, and especially on the link between vascular disease and dementia, not just the so-called 'vascular dementia' but other kinds too, including 'Alzheimer's'.

The road to so many chronic diseases leads back to carbs.
 
I had the pleasure of trying out a food bank last year.

I cant remember all my complaints about it but they are numerous .

1) In the UK they are only designed for people whose benefits are late or delayed.

They are not designed for those of us who are disabled and either unable to claim benefite due to the abusive system or for those who have been rejected benefits due to the system.

I went twice and on the third time I was rudely told I was only allowed to come three times. I was treated like scum.

2) The actual food.

You are supposed to go only once per week and yet the food parcel contains enough food for only 3 days. Go Figure!

The regular parcel contained:

Coffee
Sugar
Biscuits
milk
sugar cereal
tinned crap
fresh fish.
possibly meat item.
pasta


As an alien, who couldn't eat any of that, I received the appropriate negative looks :)

They were perplexed and altogether put out at my rejection of coffee sugar and so on and became politely hostile .

They dont cater effectively for vegetarians either.

They did cobble together some useful stuff , but then failed to make up a full parcel for me.

For example, i asked for an additional packet of brown rice and they said no.

There is no good reason not to have fresh fruit and veg. None whatsoever.

When I was homeless all the Church provided was Gluten and beans on toast which i was excluded from.

There was once a night hand out of food where i couldn't eat any of it but soneone had cut up some celery sticks and put it in a plastic cup... i was very grateful and the only one who ate it lol.

At X-mas once I was handed a plastic carrier bag. (samaritans maybe ) It had a Chicken in it (dead ) , pen and pad and another item . Merry X-mas I was told. Nice.


3) I noted they should also be collecting pet food for people too.
 
Meant to add - I couldn't afford heating AT ALL until recently when I started receiving small occupational pensions after being ill for 18 years. I went through the two recent freezing winters in the UK with almost no heating at all. (What I did have was bought on credit, which I just had to keep building up.) I was going out scavenging firewood in the fields. Three days of that in a row wiped me out for a week. Eventually the over-exertion caught up with me and I was hospitalised for 4 days, having become dangerously hyponatraemic. In the 3 years since then I have been even less able to work than before, although things have gradually improved again since I went low-carb and gluten-free, and been pacing better. So I have been able to earn even less due to over-exertion due to lack of government support.

Since 1995 I have not been able to afford to run a car, and I'm not sure that I would be able to drive far now.

Well done for (not) supporting me back into earning my living again, UK Government. :(

MESci,

Oh my. Your experience sounds so like mine and my husband's in the early years of being sick. Right down to collecting the firewood. Our oil furnace apparently leaked fumes into the house and may have been an element of what made us sick (there were many other poisoning experiences we had over a few years). We couldn't afford to replace the furnace and had to heat with wood which my husband with rib injuries had to chop every day. We had to burn chairs and an old crib to get through a period without wood. I shudder to remember those days.

I understand what that does to a person to be constantly denied even the basics of what's needed to keep body and soul alive for months and years on end. You have managed to survive it. I salute you. I know that is no small task and not everyone can do it.
 
The foodbank issues remind me of a store I was shopping at with my mother, when they were holding a food drive for homeless youth. There was a list of the foods the organization wanted, and all of it was processed crap with 0 nutritional value other than calories. Instead of following the list, we donated a canned meat that wasn't too scary - if they're eating poptarts all the time, they could probably use some protein once in a while :p

Good thinking, Valentijn. That would be the best way to go. And I can tell you if I had been the recipient of that canned meat amongst all the breads and pastas, I'd have rejoiced, with tears.:)

My old food bank also has a list that they have in their storefront window, which does at least also include fresh foods, but majors on things like canned soups, boxed mac and cheese, canned vegetables. They will take just about anything though which is good.

One day I hope to earn enough to be able to give regularly to the food bank. When that day comes we'll major on giving meat and fresh veg.
 
I love coconut oil! I use it instead of margarine now, and for cooking.



I agree in principle. I focused a lot on dementia in my Masters degree studies, and especially on the link between vascular disease and dementia, not just the so-called 'vascular dementia' but other kinds too, including 'Alzheimer's'.

The road to so many chronic diseases leads back to carbs.

MeSci,

I wish I loved coconut oil. :) I aspire to love it one day or at least be able to consistently choke it down.

Fish oil used to do the same thing to me. Worse, in fact. It made me feel like up-chucking all day. Coconut oil just does that for a few minutes.:) After a few months I got to love fish oil. Same brand and everything, so it was me that changed.

I speculated that maybe the extreme reaction I had to fish oil was an indicator of just how badly I needed it. My body didn't seem to know what to do with it.

I agree about carbs. Now that I am aware of how bad they are for me, I am noticing their presence in all kinds of bad situations. I don't think everyone does best on low carb, I know people who get sick on it. But for those of us who can't handle carbs ... I do miss a good sandwich every once in awhile though.:)
 
That is too bad about the restrictions at the food bank there. Perhaps they can't handle keeping track of perishables. Processed stuff never goes bad. In a way.:)

I'm not in the U.S., I am in Ontario, Canada. I find though that where I live, different food banks in different towns may operate by different guidelines. Depends on who's funding them I think. The one I went to was run by a couple of women who put together a setup where various stores and other groups donate regularly, and they can decide then (within food safety regulations and whatnot) what they want to offer.

They offer fresh produce which is wonderful. Most of their stuff is supremely processed, and very bad for me. But they welcome fresh food.

Another thing about the diversity among food banks -- If I lived in a town 20 minutes away, I would not have been able to go to their foodbank. That one requires paperwork that shows you are on some kind of assistance, on welfare or disability of some kind. Nobody in my family of three sickies qualify for any of that. So ... there's irony in the fact that when the government's safety nets are closed to you, so are the food banks. And people with nowhere to turn in that town are REALLY screwed.

If I'd had some kind of government assistance maybe I wouldn't have needed the food bank. But because I have no assistance I can't go there?

I have treasured the food bank in my town and the people who run it. I went in the first time with all the paperwork I could think of, fresh from having to offer up validation of my existence repeatedly when looking for some government assistance. I had a wad of bills and stuff in my purse, and started to take it out. But she said I didn't need any of that.

She said, "You're here. You wouldn't be here if you didn't need help. And we want to help you." The tears poured down my face as I let her help me.
In the UK its very much you have to be on benefits to claim more benefits.

Ihave been currently rejected for my Water rates benefit relief due to not claiming benefits. Its disgraceful. :(
 
I had the pleasure of trying out a food bank last year.

I cant remember all my complaints about it but they are numerous .

1) In the UK they are only designed for people whose benefits are late or delayed.

They are not designed for those of us who are disabled and either unable to claim benefite due to the abusive system or for those who have been rejected benefits due to the system.

I went twice and on the third time I was rudely told I was only allowed to come three times. I was treated like scum.

2) The actual food.

You are supposed to go only once per week and yet the food parcel contains enough food for only 3 days. Go Figure!

The regular parcel contained:

Coffee
Sugar
Biscuits
milk
sugar cereal
tinned crap
fresh fish.
possibly meat item.
pasta


As an alien, who couldn't eat any of that, I received the appropriate negative looks :)

They were perplexed and altogether put out at my rejection of coffee sugar and so on and became politely hostile .

They dont cater effectively for vegetarians either.

They did cobble together some useful stuff , but then failed to make up a full parcel for me.

For example, i asked for an additional packet of brown rice and they said no.

There is no good reason not to have fresh fruit and veg. None whatsoever.

When I was homeless all the Church provided was Gluten and beans on toast which i was excluded from.

There was once a night hand out of food where i couldn't eat any of it but soneone had cut up some celery sticks and put it in a plastic cup... i was very grateful and the only one who ate it lol.

At X-mas once I was handed a plastic carrier bag. (samaritans maybe ) It had a Chicken in it (dead ) , pen and pad and another item . Merry X-mas I was told. Nice.


3) I noted they should also be collecting pet food for people too.

Golden,

That's awful. I was very lucky in that "my" food bank did not exclude people who weren't on assistance. We could only go every 3 weeks and they would pile up a shopping carts' worth of food -- as long as there had been enough donations to be able to do so. But I don't think it was meant to be a comprehensive all-you-need proposition. We certainly could not make it stretch for 3 weeks. But we could make it work for two weeks.

I wished I could have traded all that carby junk that I couldn't eat, for a little more of what I could eat, but that was not possible. My son and husband could eat most of the junk without evidence of being sickened by it so we took it. But what I could eat was pretty sparse. People who donate to the foodbanks in general from what I've seen, have no idea about what is nutritious and what is not. The ones who do really stand out in terms of their donations.

I so agree about the pet food. My food bank was happy to get it from people but I know that in the years I went there, pet food wasn't available very often. Big relief if you knew you could feed your pet every week.
 
In the UK its very much you have to be on benefits to claim more benefits.

Ihave been currently rejected for my Water rates benefit relief due to not claiming benefits. Its disgraceful. :(

Makes me crazy thinking about this. I was lucky in terms of the food bank -- we were able to go there despite not being able to get benefits. What a punch in the gut that is, to have been turned down everywhere else and have no money and be unable to buy food, and can't get it from the foodbank either .... Do the people that make these decisions not think? At all?