The Porridge Myth

There are people who think every parent should be able to afford to feed their children.

And I absolutely agree.

When my husband left, and I realised what a vulnerable position I was in financially, I cut back majorly on my spending in general, and on my food spending in particular. For a while there I was averaging £18 a week on food – I wrote about it here. BUT I had a house, with a kitchen, with a fridge and a freezer and a cooker and pots and pans and utensils.

There’s been a lot of talk in the media about free meals for children during school holidays – and on the back of that, a lot of worthy but naïve talk about porridge.

If parents want a good cheap breakfast for their children, some say, they should just give them porridge.

It’s not a bad idea – it’s filling, warm, full of fibre and slow-release carbohydrate, and there’s the goodness of the milk as well. Nothing wrong with it.

Except – there are some huge assumptions going on here.

Expecting parents to give their kids porridge for breakfast is assuming –

  • They have been able to get to the shop to buy the porridge and the milk – getting to the shop takes time, effort, and depending how far from the shop you are, money for bus fare or taxi fare.
  • They have enough money to buy the porridge and the milk
  • They have somewhere to keep the milk cold until it’s needed
  • Someone won’t nick the milk before they have chance to use it
  • They have somewhere to keep the porridge away from rats and mice
  • Someone won’t nick the porridge before they have chance to use it
  • They own a pan
  • They have a hob or microwave for cooking the porridge
  • They have an electricity or gas supply and the money to pay for it
  • They own a wooden spoon
  • They own a bowl and a spoon for eating it
  • They know how to make porridge
  • They have time, and the inclination, to stand and stir it
  • They have somewhere to wash up the pan, the wooden spoon, the bowl and the spoon afterwards, so they can be used again tomorrow. This means access to hot water, washing up liquid, and unless their pan happens to be non-stick, a scouring pad.
  • They are organised enough to get up in time to get their child up and the porridge cooked and eaten before it’s time to go to school.

If a child doesn’t happen to have a parent who can tick all of these boxes, is it the child’s fault?

Oh, and without a bit of sugar on it, porridge is fairly miserable and tasteless. Which means you have to also find the money for the sugar…

The fact that I’ve assumed that porridge is made with milk shows that I’ve never had to face real hardship in my life.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. LittleDreams says:

    In my job I see so many parents facing real hardship and no, they aren’t spending it down the pub or going on holiday with the tax payers money.
    Thank you for your posts throughout lockdown, I’ve found the email notification in my inbox quite comforting in times of weirdness😊😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The tabloid press have a lot to answer for. I feel we’re in real danger of going back to the Victorian idea of the ‘deserving poor’.

      And thank you!! I’ve had my own few weeks of weirdness, which meant I posted very little in October – but, I’m back!! xx


  2. Joan Mudd says:

    Well said.


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