When looking at Western Europe, we don't usually think about poverty - but in fact, some people in modern-day Britain are so hard up that they can't afford to buy food.
Back in 2008, the financial crisis caused a lot of redundancies. Then there were the cuts to the welfare system in 2013 which added to the problem - and many British people fell into debt. It's estimated that 500,000 people in the UK have turned to food banks, just to get by.
Steph Hagen, who works in a Nottingham food bank, says: "People do not go to a food bank because it's an open door. It's a case of they go to it because they need to. With our food bank - we are an independent one, and we have limited stocks - everyone who comes through our door has no income whatsoever."
There are checks and referrals to make sure nobody is abusing the system. If a doctor or a social worker thinks someone needs to use a food bank - even for a short time - they can give them vouchers. Then the people in need take the vouchers along to the food bank and they get handouts for three days.
Churches and individual donors provide most of the food in the banks. But some businesses might help out too.
And what sort of food is offered in food banks? Hagen says: "Basically, we've got porridge. We do occasionally get fresh produce but it's very rare, especially in the winter months. It's like, tinned fruit, tinned ready meals. We have to give out 'no-cooking' food parcels because people can't afford the gas and electricity".
Community spirit has a lot to do with food banks. Volunteers say they are a great meeting place for people who are lonely and depressed. And when facing a crisis, some beneficiaries might need to feed not only their belly - but also their soul.
hard up 拮据，经济困难
to afford 负担得起，买得起
financial crisis 金融危机
welfare system 福利体系
to fall into debt 负债
a food bank 食物银行（食物赈济处）
to get by 勉强过活
limited stock 有限的存货，库存有限
a referral （官方的）送交、移交，引见
to abuse the system 滥用制度、体系
a voucher 票券，代金券
a handout 救济品
a donor 捐赠者
a ready meal 现成食品
community spirit 社区精神
a volunteer 志愿者
a beneficiary 受益者，受惠者
1. What caused many British people to fall into debt?
2. How do food banks make sure people are genuinely in need?
3. Where do the items in food banks come from?
4. Why do food banks mostly offer people tinned food?
5. Which word in the article means 'stomach'?
1. Martin lost his job about a year ago. Now he lives off _________ from his parents.
a voucher handouts referrals redundancies
2. Ann needs _________ to help her distribute food and clothes to the victims of the earthquake.
volunteers beneficiaries doctors welfare system
3. You've got to control your spending! It's not good to _________.
get by cut the welfare system afford nothing fall into debt
4. Mr Jones, take this _________ to the food bank and they will give you a food parcel.
handout voucher income crisis
5. Sorry, mate, I can't lend you money. I'm _________ myself.
volunteer handout redundancies hard up
1. What caused many British people to fall into debt? The 2008 financial crisis and redundancies, followed by the cuts to the welfare system in 2013.
2. How do food banks make sure people are genuinely in need? They use checks, referrals and a voucher system to make sure that only the needy are able to access the food banks.
3. Where do the items in food banks come from? They are donated mainly by churches, individuals and some businesses.
4. Why do food banks mostly offer people tinned food? Because the beneficiaries might not have gas or electricity, and most of these items don't need refrigeration or cooking.
5. Which word in the article means 'stomach'? Belly.
1. Martin lost his job about a year ago. Now he lives off handouts from his parents.
2. Ann needs volunteers to help her distribute food and clothes to the victims of the earthquake.
3. You've got to control your spending! It's not good to fall into debt.
4. Mr Jones, take this voucher along to the food bank and they will give you a food parcel.
5. Sorry, mate, I can't lend you money. I'm hard up myself.