Locals said they wanted nothing to do with media attention over their cooking classes – and felt like they were getting gift vouchers for ‘behaving for the papers’ after Lee’s embarrassing rant Anderson on food banks
Users of a food bank cooking school have been given gifts for ‘behaving for the papers’ to spare Tory Lee Anderson blushes after his embarrassing rant about food poverty, the Sunday Mirror has reported.
Ashfield MP Lee Anderson was branded ‘shameful’ and ‘rude’ last month after he appeared to blame food poverty on a lack of cooking and budgeting skills.
He claimed there was no ‘massive use of food banks’ in the UK, adding that there was ‘generation after generation who cannot cook properly’ and ‘cannot budget’.
And he challenged politicians and the media to “come to Ashfield to visit the food bank I work with. They distribute food parcels on the condition that they sign up for cooking and budgeting classes.
But locals said they felt uneasy when they arrived for their weekly class to find members of the media there to observe the class – without being told in advance.
And after class, they received cards thanking them for “everything you did last week in relation to media interest in our food bank.”
Along with the card, locals received £20 in vouchers, which can be used at Iceland, M&S, Boots and other stores.
Residents said they felt pressured to make positive comments to the media and about Mr Anderson following the argument.
A person who attended the class told the Sunday Mirror she was “uncomfortable” with the presence of the media and told organizers she did not want to be involved.
They said they were not food bank users and only signed up for the course to learn cooking skills, not realizing that the school was linked to a food bank.
“I didn’t want anything to do with it, I don’t do politics.” they said.
They said they felt the vouchers were given out in exchange for “behavior for the newspapers”.
The vouchers were given to at least ten students.
One resident said he did not know who paid for the vouchers, adding “it would be better to go to the food bank which relies on donations and volunteers”.
Mr Anderson said: “Another absurd story from the offline Mirror who didn’t attend the event.
“All users of the service receive cards and a pat on the back to take the courses.
“I have invited the media with the permission of the food bank and the college.”
He added that he would be returning to the food bank next week for another cooking event.
A college spokesperson said: “We are very proud of our excellent academic offering, which is rightly rated good by Ofsted.
“The college welcomes a large number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and – like many other colleges with similar student numbers – we are keen to help them cook and eat in the most responsible and healthy way possible. , which is good for them and for society more broadly.
“It is absurd to suggest that a student has ever been coerced or paid to attend classes.”
The lessons and food bank are run by Let’s All Eat, a project to provide vulnerable people with access to healthy and affordable food, operating within the Sutton Community Academy.
Let’s All Eat received a grant of £11,110 from the local council in October, to pay for food, volunteer training and hall hire.
Mr Anderson donated £1,000 to the food bank in January and met Liz Barrett, the college principal, who helps run the food bank.
Ms Barrett received an OBE in the 2022 New Year’s Honors List for Services to Education.