As a schoolboy, once a year I was tasked with negotiating the donation of 'surplus' tins and packets from the family store cupboard to a hoard which the school then parcelled out to needy pensioners. As my mother had the food-acquisitive habits of a squirrel with OCD this was not always easy; if I managed to come away with a small jar of home-made tomato chutney from the Suffolk Chutney Mountain, an egg-sized jar of fish paste and a tin of processed peas it was a win.
Some parents regarded it as a status contest and donated tiny tins of salty anchovies or jars of cocktail cherries or of Marrons glacé, and sometimes these luxuries were snaffled by the staff, who diligently swapped them for tins of processed peas. And later we suspected that many of the needy pensioners were not the retired sons and daughters of artisan toil but the school's own retired teaching and domestic staff - an annual gift of two dozen assorted tins being cheaper than a proper pension. Well, I suppose it kept the fees down. Sometimes the old dears hit lucky with a tin of pineapple chunks, but generally what they got most of was processed peas.
I must then have regarded retirement as a bleak period of life marked by smelly trousers and enlivened only by fish paste and processed peas; this was the 70s after all. And now we have news that the Red Cross is to distribute food parcels across the UK not just to needy pensioners but to needy asylum seekers and needy normal people who just can't manage their money. I, for one, stand ready to contribute; since I found two tins of processed peas at the back of the cupboard both price-marked 12p and both still remarkably in date I've been wondering what to do with them. In the absence of a nuclear attack eating them myself is not an option. I now have the answer - and will even in future keep an eye out for long-life fish paste.
Back to the seventies isn't all bad, y'know.