Head Chef slams Tory MP foodbank remarks with 30p meals – ‘Treats people like peasants’

Lee Anderson defends his food bank comment

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Tory backbencher Lee Anderson recommended cookery and budgeting classes for those who use food banks in a move that has been labelled as “blaming the poor people”. As the crunch of the cost of living crisis hits households across the UK, with energy bills and food prices skyrocketing at the fastest rate in three decades, food banks are becoming an essential service for many families.

While Mr Anderson admitted that many people who use food banks are in need of the service, he told ITV Central: “There’s people that are abusing the system and there’s people that go because, you know like I say, they’re not allowed to budget, they’re not allowed to cook properly.”

Mr Anderson also stated his belief that it is possible to “cook meals from scratch” with “30 pence a day”.

Chef Gareth Mason, 34, decided to put this theory to the test after describing the MPs comments as “tone deaf”.

Hull Live reported that the chef challenged himself to create seven meals that would fit with the miniscule budget.

Mr Mason did manage to make some basic meals, however, their nutritional value and portion sizes would mean adults would struggle to hit the recommended average calorie intake of 2,000 calories per day.

The ‘meals’ created by Mr Mason included crab stick salad, burgers, beans on toast, spaghetti Napoli, jacket potato with beans, and a “spam fritter” made from low-cost meat. 

Speaking to Hull Live, he said: “I’ve come to the conclusion it’s a load of rubbish.

“These meals I’ve done, as soon as you put any protein or dairy into them, it’s not feasible to do it for 30p.

“If you eat beans on toast for every meal, it might work, but even if you did cheese on toast, the cost of cheese would be more than 30p on its own. 

“And you have the cooking cost on top of the cost of the food.”

He added that the salt, fat, and sugar contents of these meals are high and none of them were nutritionally balanced.

The experienced head chef from Absolute Bistros in Lancashire, added: “Even if this MP is talking about batch cooking army food, even the smallest amount of Spaghetti Bolognese is going to go above 30p.

“Has this guy ever eaten a 30p meal in his life? I doubt it. He’s contradicted himself by having chefs cook the food in a big kitchen with an industrial oven.

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“Where does he expect the average person to cook all this food and then freeze it all?

“It takes a trained and experienced chef to work out the precise cost of a meal to the penny like that, how is the average person supposed to do that?”

Gareth concluded: “He’s treating people like peasants. Energy prices are going up, people are struggling, the cost of living is on the rise, and what’s their solution? Eat for 30p?

“The cheaper you go, how much rubbish is in the food? It will be full of additives and preservatives and all sorts of junk.”

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