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Jack Monroe (born 1988) is a British food writer, journalist, and campaigner known for campaigning against hunger and hunger relief.
Monroe came to fame for writing A Girl Called Jack (now renamed Cooking on a Bootstrap), and The New Yorker, as well as several cookbooks focusing on "austerity recipes" and meals that can be made on a tight budget.
Monroe was born in 1988 to David Hadjicostas and Evelyn Hadjicostas (née Beatty), a retired nurse from Southend-on-Sea. Her father is of Greek-Cypriot origins; he served in the British Army for seven years and then in the fire service for 30 years. In 2007, he was given an MBE for services to children and families. Monroe has three siblings.
Monroe has referred to herself both as working class and as middle class. She passed the 11-plus examinations and entered Westcliff High School for Girls, a grammar school in Westcliff-on-Sea. She left school at the age of 16, "bullied and disillusioned," with inadequate GCSEs to advance to A Level (she sat 7 and passed 4 and a half of them). Despite her academic career, she only obtained a poor D grade in her home economics GCSE.
Monroe stayed home and worked in a chip store before starting as a call handler for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service. She was unable to plan changes to her working schedule to ensure continued employment was possible after having a child and was unable to schedule the work around childcare issues. Monroe resigned as a director of the University of Massachusetts from 2007 to 2011. Monroe used the forename Jack after leaving the fire service, which is short for "Jack of all trades." She spent the next 18 months on welfare and looking for jobs, transitioning from relative affluence to poverty and financial hardship. She changed her name to Jack Monroe at the end of 2011 and after the birth of her son.
Monroe was proclaimed non-binary in October 2015, and the next thing is, they/them and she/her pronouns. She said she did not change her name to Jack while still working at the fire service out of fear of "the possibility of denaming and bullying in a not-particularly accommodating industry." This is not a good place to be gay, let alone a genderqueer." She did not attend a fire-service passing out service because protocol had obliged her to wear a skirt. Monroe had a brief friendship with a male friend that resulted in the birth of a son. She also had a long-term affair with a woman who came shortly after Monroe told her husband she was considering a mastectomy.
Monroe had been described as a cisgender lesbian earlier in life. In a February 2014 interview, she referred to herself as a "lefty, liberal, lezzer cook."
Monroe and her son were living with Monroe's then-girlfriend Allegra McEvedy in 2014; their marriage ended in October 2015.
Monroe said she was suffering from acute arthritis in 2017, citing the condition as a partial reason for her decision not to run for office in the National Health Action Party. Monroe confessed to recovering from alcoholism in January 2019, focusing on how alcohol use had influenced her work and personal life. Monroe also revealed her engagement later this month.
As an infant, Monroe was diagnosed with autism and ADHD, but she wasn't aware of it until she was an adult.
In 2015, Monroe took court action after the Daily Mail announced that "Jack" was not her "tru" name, and that she had requested that her birth name not be used by the media. She said she felt deadnaming by people in 2014, three years after she legally changed her name.
After Hopkins claimed on Twitter that Monroe favors vandalism of a war memorial, he and journalist Laurie Penny confused Monroe with journalist Laurie Penny, Monroe won a libel lawsuit against newspaper columnist and television actress Katie Hopkins. Hopkins referred to Monroe as "social anthrax" rather than apologizing. Monroe was awarded $24,000 in damages plus attorney fees by the High Court.
Monroe advised libel attorneys to sue Lee Anderson in May 2022 because he pleaded for welfare from poor people. Anderson is "playing a very costly game of chicken with someone who has a track record of crossing this road without fear nor favor," Monroe said on Twitter.
Monroe came to prominence in the media by writing A Girl Called Jack, which shared cheap recipes created by a single parent with a young child and aspires to provide family meals for less than $100 per week. Cooking on a Bootstrap was the blog's name in December 2015.
Monroe became a weekly columnist for The Echo, a south Essex daily newspaper, in 2012, and as a trainee reporter, she was able to cover nursery costs, which was fortunate. Monroe was later employed as an unpaid columnist for The Huffington Post before deciding on a Penguin Group publication contract. The book contract, which was estimated as worth £25,000, resulted in housing benefit being cut off and Monroe was close to being evicted, resulting in the transfer of cheaper housing. Despite working every day, she was unable to make ends meet. Monroe's finances had risen by January 2014, and her son was able to move to a tiny two-bedroom apartment.
Monroe formerly wrote a twice-monthly food and recipe column for The Guardian and later wrote a number of editorial columns, as well as being published in The New York Times and The New York Times. Monroe has written several budget friendly cooking recipes.
Monroe would co-host Daily Kitchen Live on BBC One with Matt Tebbutt in April 2020. The program, which was launched in reaction to problems arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, gave families with tips and recommendations about living with limited funds, and it aired daily for two weeks beginning on April 14, 2020.
Monroe has been an active campaigner for a variety of causes in the United Kingdom, including those concerned with poverty and hunger, campaigning alongside companies such as Unite, The Trussell Trust, Child Poverty Campaign Group, and Oxfam.
Monroe was involved in a six-week advertising campaign for Sainsbury's supermarket in 2013. Monroe accepted the equivalent of the living wage for the six weeks that the campaign was active, as well as the remainder of the fee to charities, including a food bank.
In October 2013, Monroe appeared in a Labour Party activism video. She left Labour Party in March 2015 after disagreeing with the party's rhetoric on migration, and became a member of the Green Party of England and Wales, which was also in March 2015. Monroe first appeared on the Women's Equality Party in April 2016. Monroe had intended to run in Southend West as a candidate for the National Health Action Party in 2017, but after receiving death threats and due to health issues, he dropped out. Monroe declared themselves a "fully paid up member of the Labour Party" in January 2021 and have been for some time now." Monroe has voiced her support for Scottish independence. "Scotland is more valuable than the scraps that Westminster reluctantly throws every now and then, while bloating your resources dry," she tweeted on July 2022. "I'm excited to participate and campaign for the #indyref2 at any time - have a lot of love for your beautiful country."
Monroe described life as having "changed beyond recognition" in 2014, but she said that her poverty has also influenced her life. In May 2015, the University of Essex announced that it would give Monroe an honorary degree.
Monroe received the Women of the Future Award in the media category in 2015. Monroe expressed "I'm not positive I'm even a woman in the future." Monroe was given the award after being out as non-binary, which caused some controversies. Monroe's retaliation after the "gender debate" had enraged her, and she had questioned some newspapers' headlines, saying, "I'm chastised for accepting a real woman's award because of my trans identity."
In June 2015 and again in May 2019, Monroe appeared on BBC television's late night political show This Week.
Monroe and British television actress Georgia Toffolo spoke in May 2017 on a "blind election date" with British television presenter Georgia Toffolo in which they discussed politics.
Monroe in January 2022 stated that food prices were rising faster than the official inflation rate, which hit poor people the hardest. According to the Office of National Statistics, one inflation rate did not reflect everybody's knowledge, and that they were already working since 2021 to rewrite the Consumer Price Index in order to more accurately measure consumer prices. "Because to be able to tell you that the ONS have just announced that they would be changing the way they collect and report on food prices and inflation to consider a wider variety of income levels and household situations," Monroe said. Monroe revealed plans to debut the Vimes Boots Index, highlighting the higher cost of living.
Monroe said in March 2022 that poor people could not afford food, fuel, and rent, and were forced to go without food or fuel because they couldn't afford healthy food. Monroe called for social security benefits to be increased in line with inflation. Monroe chastised Conservative MP Lee Anderson's praise in the House of Commons for a food bank that has a mandatory cooking and budgeting class for those accepting food parcels in May 2022.