The pandemic has hit people really hard financially and as we head into winter, charities and organisations are gearing up to help people through the colder months. So here's how to support your local food bank.
Over the last decade food banks have proven to be a vital service in communities. In 2019/20 approximately 1.9 million people used a food bank in the UK. This is around 300 thousand more than the previous year. Footballer, Marcus Rashford has also hit the headlines throughout the pandemic with his #EndChildFoodPoverty campaign. He’s working with the charity Fareshare which has pledged to fight food poverty and reduce food waste in the UK.
There are several ways you can donate to food banks, be it with food, money, or your time.
How to find your local food bank
The Trussell Trust is a network of food banks across the UK that get supplies to those who need them. They have 1,200 food banks and give people a minimum of three days' worth of meals. On their website you can use the interactive map to find the closest affiliate food bank in your area. Similarly, Peabody has a list of London-based food banks, many of which are part of The Trussell Trust network.
The Independent Food Network has gathered the details of 929 independent food banks, as well as those in The Trussell Trust network and distributors based in schools, universities, and the Salvation Army. You can locate them on a map and find the nearest one to you. There are alternatives to food banks and the Independent Food Network has also mapped out other food aid services.
Bankuet is another network of food banks run nationwide. You can donate once or on a monthly basis and can select whether you’d like to give to a specific food bank, for instance one in your area, or just to help the network more broadly.
How to donate
There are different ways that you can donate food and other items to food banks. After you’ve found the closest one to you, you can either go and donate directly or go to a collection point at a supermarket. Tesco is affiliated with The Trussell Trust and Morrisons and Sainsbury's also donate to food banks.
Before giving to food banks you should consider what you’re going to give. The food may need to last a little while so it isn’t advised that you give fresh fruit and vegetables. The Trussell Trust outlines some of the best items to give. Cereal, rice, and pasta are high up on the list, as are canned soups, sauces, and vegetables and tea, coffee, and juice.
As well as food poverty many food banks create care packages to combat hygiene poverty. The Hygiene Bank does this specifically and can point you in the direction of your closest hygiene bank. However, many food banks will also accept deodorant, toilet paper, and soap. Menstrual products and baby supplies are also really in need. After you’ve located your closest food bank it may be a good idea to contact them and see if they’re particularly in need of any items before you bring in your donation.
If you’d like to donate money to help support your local food bank you can access the donation pages on either The Trussell Trust or The Independent Food Network which supports a number of food banks.
How to volunteer
Another way to help your local food bank is by offering your time. You can either contact your local food bank once you’ve located it to ask if they’re in need of any help. Alternatively, The Trussell Trust website has a tool where you can enter your postcode and it will bring up any opportunities in the area around you.