The Great Food Bank Heist


Nelson, Ashley and their mother look forward to Voucher Thursday when they might fill their empty shelves with the foodstuffs and groceries from the Food Bank. Sometimes it’s a Really Tricky Month, when Mum’s nursing salary barely covers all the bills, so that they’re left playing imagine games about the foods they wish they had. What’s more it’s a long stretch from Breakfast Club to school dinner, to sharing an egg and tin of beans.

Therefore, when it’s clear that thieves are raiding the groceries donated by Gladstores’ supermarket to the food bank, leaving the charity’s shelves empty and families disappointed, Nelson is determined to investigate. It seems that he’s forced to face his biggest embarrassment in admitting his family’s situation to his friends, too. How will they react?

Onjali Q. Raúf shares the reality for 2.5 million people in the United Kingdom. Food banks are a lifeline, a staple part of families’ survival. The Great Food Bank Heist is a relevant, honest and compassionate story of a food bank family, in dyslexia friendly format, that Bookwagon recommends to our readers.

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The Great Food Bank Heist

Onjali Q. Raúf, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli

(Barrington Stoke)

Ashley knows that Nelson hates it when she sucks her tummy in to emphasise her hunger. Although he feels responsible for her and Mum a lot of the time, the half hour that he’s in charge before Mum’s shift ends, feels laden. It’s worse when it’s the day before the three of them can refill the cupboards on a Voucher Thursday. Then they’re fated to play pretend games and make something out of a can of beans and an egg. Although Mum has a full-time nursing job, the rent and costs are high. Too many times it’s a ‘Really Tricky Month‘. Yet just as Nelson and Ashley and Mum look forward to full bellies, they’re confronted with The Great Food Bank Heist. 
It’s not like Nelson wants to share his family’s situation with his friends. Krish and Harriet have plenty of food. What’s more, it’s obvious they know that Nelson’s family struggle and are often hungry. However can Nelson speak up about the thefts that are affecting his family and thereafter other people who rely on the donations from Gladstores’ supermarkets? Who would steal from those who depend on this support?
Onjali Q. Raúf shares her knowledge and understanding of food banks, which feature within The Night Bus Hero, within an honest, revealing and compassionate title for Barrington Stoke. While we are made aware of Nelson’s family’s situation, the writer is keen we do not pity, but take on board the real reasons this family struggles. What’s more we learn from the family’s effort and the friends’ support as to actions we could consider. Bookwagon recommends The Great Food Bank Heist to our middle grade readers.


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