Growing up, Max La Manna, like every child, needed encouragement to clear his plate. “My mother would always say make sure you eat your food – there are starving people on the other side of the world.” Now, with a cost-of-living crisis pushing more families into poverty, La Manna knows that hunger is no longer an abstract, distant notion.
“There are millions of children across the country right now who are struggling to get meals,” he says. “It’s happening all around us. It’s happening to people around the corner from us, it’s happening next door. It’s not this faraway place where we don’t see it – out of sight out of mind. It’s happening everywhere.”
A record number of people in the UK are hungry. Even before the current crisis, 4.2 million people were living in food poverty – including nine per cent of all children. In 2022, 320,000 turned to the Trussell Trust’s network of food banks – a 40 per cent increase on the previous year.
But the problem is not a shortage of food. Aside from periodical problems sourcing tomatoes, there is no reason for people in the UK not to have enough to eat. Especially given the fact that around 40 per cent of all food produced for human consumption is wasted. So Max La Manna is on a mission. None of us can singlehandedly solve the food poverty problem, but we can all help with surprising solutions, which involve frying banana skins and salvaging soggy cereal.
Max La Manna was born in the US, but has established himself in the UK as a self-taught, low-food-waste chef and influencer, with over one million followers. He’s had more than one billion views of his recipes, which use ingredients you’re likely to already have and others you could probably retrieve from your bin right now.
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