Monday, 19 March 2018

Clean Teeth

Bob's just finished a brilliant sermon series on the book of Amos. I love discovering just how relevant the words of an Old Testament prophet are. One verse which struck me quite forcibly was this...
"Cleanness of teeth" was an idiom for lack of food. If you haven't eaten a good meal, then you won't have any debris left in your mouth. But the more I thought about this, I began to reflect on the people in our country who use Foodbanks. 
I know that these people are genuinely struggling to survive - and I am glad we have a 'Blessing Bin' at our church, where people donate tins etc, and these are collected weekly by our local Foodbank Team.
I've read lots of 'frugal bloggers' who say they economise by brushing their teeth with bicarb, or salt or just plain water. I really don't like that myself- First thing in the morning, I like to have a minty fresh mouth - and when I brush my teeth after meals or at bedtime, a bit of paste on the brush is important for me. When the girls were small, and our income was minuscule, 'new toothbrushes' were a significant family event [in the Christmas stocking, with the Easter Eggs, and for the summer holiday] But if you are on a really limited income, you're probably cutting back on all 'non-essential' spending. Maybe you have enough to eat - because of the help from the Foodbank -  will you want to spend money on toothpaste? 
I'm also aware that many women experience 'period poverty' - they cannot afford sanpro each month. The sense of uncleanness and lack of dignity must be awful.
I'm getting into the habit of buying an extra tin or two whenever I do my grocery shop, to go into the Bin. 

Last week I bought toothpaste, brushes and 'feminine hygiene' items as my donation. 
When Aline and Nadia took our shoeboxes out to Romania at Christmas, they told us how delighted the teenage girls were to find stuff like this in their parcels. Proper sanpro [[not rags] is a real treat for them.
After the Grenfell Tower fire, Liz told me she had taken underwear and sanpro to her local donation point. "Mum, you can happily wear a grubby 2nd hand jumper for a few days, but clean pants are much more important" 
Above the door of the Walworth Clinic, in Southwark - just round the corner from where Rosie, Liz and Jon live, is this plaque, put up in 1937, bearing a quote from Cicero
I am not sure I totally agree with it - but I do believe that to be really healthy, people need both good diets and good hygiene practices.
I want children to have clean teeth at bedtime because they have been able to brush them, not because they have not eaten an evening meal.


  1. Great post. Our WI collects sanpro for Women's Refuge. I think I'll get dental stuff the next time I buy for the Foodbank.

  2. I try and 'tithe'y supermarket shop, putting goods to the value of 10 percent into the food bank. I know not everyone can do this, (and there were times when we couldn't). Sanpro, soap, petfood as well as people food all go in!

  3. I can't get my head around, in 2018, in this country, girls missing school because of a lack of hygiene products. The pound shops are good places to pick up quite a few helpful bits and pieces for this and for not much money

  4. There is a lot of good help happening because of foodbanks but yes, hygiene products are just as important! You can actually buy packs of toothbrushes in Poundland which is good, about 8 for a pound. I don't change my toothbrush loads because I feel guilty about them going into landfill. Am going to give bamboo toothbrushes a go again.
    I like the above commenter who tithes her shopping. Might try that!x


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