With many people struggling to make ends meet due to the coronavirus outbreak, food banks are being relied upon more than ever. Here’s where to find your local food bank and how to donate.
In the last year, 1.6 million emergency food parcels have been delivered from food banks to those in need, and according to reports, this is only set to increase in the coming months as more people are unable to work due to the current health crisis.
The chief executive of the Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest network of food banks, Emma Revie recently told the Guardian, “It’s really concerning, we are anticipating a significant increase in users as more people are unable to work.”
“We will stay open,” she says, assuring that the trust will continue to support communities throughout the outbreak. “Food banks are an essential community service.”
Food banks normally work with support from the public, who donate non-perishable food at a range of places such as schools, churches and local businesses, as well as supermarket collection points. Then volunteers sort the produce into emergency food parcels to give to people in need.
A large majority of food banks also provide extra services alongside the emergency food parcels, such as toiletries, sanitary products and baby basics.
With the current limitations put in place to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, much of how food banks operate has had to change in order to comply with social distancing. But it’s because of this that they need our help perhaps more than ever.
Where is my local food bank?
There are 2,000 food banks across the UK, with the majority of them run by The Trussell Trust and the others run by the Independent Food Aid Network.
The easiest way to find the food bank most local to you is through the Trussell Trust website, where you can search for your postcode and it will give you the addresses of the food banks in your local area. Their contact and opening days/hours are also online for you to see.
However, at the moment some food banks are operating a delivery service instead of opening to the public, so be sure to check online before you visit.
How to donate to a food bank
If you’re looking to make a difference in your local community and donate to a food bank, there are many ways you can do it.
On their website, the Trussell Trust says, “We’re not sure about the impact of the pandemic will be on food stock levels in the coming months, so we really encourage you to support your local food bank if you’re able to.”
They encourage people to check what items are most needed on that day and donate those if possible.
Currently you are still able to donate directly to your local food bank using the search feature to find the closest one to you, or through your local supermarket collection points. There should be a basket in your local supermarket where you can donate food to.
If you want to donate money instead, you can do this directly via The Trussell Trust.
How to volunteer for a food bank
If you are not in an at-risk group and have some spare time on your hands, why not volunteer with your local food bank and help deliver food parcels?
With over 30 per cent of food bank project managers over 65 years old and therefore classed as “at-risk”, food banks are struggling with a lack of personnel to help deliver parcels.
Speaking to the Guardian, Emma Revie said, “We are definitely in need of additional volunteers. One of our biggest threats is people becoming unwell and unable to volunteer.”
What to donate to a food bank
While food banks always provide a minimum of three days’ worth of nutritionally balanced, non-perishable tinned and dried foods, what you should donate to a food bank differs depending on where you are – and what food bank you’re donating to.
Typically food banks are looking for donations of food products from supermarkets, such as:
- Tinned tomatoes/ pasta sauce
- Lentils, beans and pulses
- Tinned meat
- Tinned vegetables
- Tinned fruit
- UHT milk
- Fruit juice
Lots of food banks will also offer essential non-food items, such as toiletries and hygiene products.
However, because the supplies to food banks differ between areas, it’s important to check with your local food bank what kind of supplies they’re most in need of at the moment. An easy way to do this is to use the search box at the bottom of this page, underneath “Items to donate”. It will tell you the products and food items that your local food bank is in need of at the moment.
If you are in the position to donate to a local food bank, now is the time to do so, with more people needing their services every day.