Ripon food poverty group sees rise in demand
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Last updated Apr 6, 2021
Photo of Sarita McDermott (left) and Helen Mackenzie
Sarita McDermott (left) and Helen Mackenzie, with donated Easter treats that families will receive along with their meal this weekend

The Back to Basics food organisation in Ripon says it is seeing a rise in demand for its help.

Currently, more than 40 adults and children, are benefiting from the Back to Basics venture. Each week, it provides, free of charge, the ingredients and guidance for a cheap, but nutritious meal to be prepared.

Photo of a Back to Basics food package

Back to Basics provide the ingredients and the recipe card needed to create a cheap, but nutritious meal

Food poverty pioneers Helen Mackenzie and Sarita McDermott set up Back to Basics in 2019. Helen, who teaches at Ripon Grammar School, told the Stray Ferret:

“We call it thriving on a budget.”

Sarita, who owns the Realitea Tea Room in North Street, added:

“Some of the most delicious meals can be produced with inexpensive ingredients such as carrots, potatoes, peas and pasta.”


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The guiding principle of Back to Basics is to be both educational and nutritional.

Helen, pointed out:

“We provide families who are struggling — usually those with kids on free school meals — with the ingredients for a meal and a recipe card. We are not a soup kitchen so we don’t make the meal for them — we expect them to get ‘back to basics’ and cook with their family.”

The venture is supported in both cash and kind by businesses and individuals in Ripon and collection boxes can be seen at various locations across the city.

The number of foodbanks in the Harrogate district is increasing — with a new one recently opened in Starbeck to meet demand.

Helen, said:

“I’m sure from what we have seen, that the families we are helping represent the tip of an iceberg. There are people paralysed by debt, who have maxed out on their credit and debit cards. Others are just a pay day away from financial meltdown.

“No matter how desperate their circumstances may be, we will help and they should not feel embarrassed about asking for our assistance.”

Anybody wanting to support the work of Back to Basics, is asked to contact Helen Mackenzie on 07896 534539.

Regular updates can be seen on Facebook.

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