During the pandemic, food banks became a lifeline for many. The strain on charities was immense, with fewer donations and fewer staff delivering food to more in need than had been required prior to the pandemic.
This year the strain is set to increase – but we are making the most of our 100+ branches throughout the UK to support as many food banks as we can!
Keep reading to find out how to gain your place on the nice list!
Food poverty can affect anyone
You may even know someone who is struggling this year. Nobody could have predicted a 40-year-high cost of living crisis, from huge energy bill price rises, to frightening mortgage rate increases, and extortionate food price rises.
- Trussell Trust, the UK’s leading hunger charity, has stated that “an emergency food parcel is being given out every 13 seconds”
- The Trussell Trust network is set to distribute 1.3 million emergency food parcels over winter to help the soaring numbers of households in need.
- Prior to this winter, up to 6% of all UK households are supported by an independent food bank or a food bank in the Trussell Trust network. This is only set to increase.
- The charity ‘Broke’ estimates the cost of a single food parcel has increased by £19 due to inflated food prices!
Independent Food Aid Network data states that demand has risen further since July 2022, and nearly 10 million adults and 4 million children are skipping meals and experiencing food insecurity.
The State of Hunger research programme, carried out by Heriot-Watt University, was conducted as a major study on hunger in the UK. In 2021, the study reviewed the number of food parcels distributed each year, which has increased by a whopping 128% over a five-year period.
Half of food banks surveyed may not be able to support everyone who needs their help, or may have to reduce the size of the parcels to meet the growing demand.
With increased costs faced by many in the UK, it’s not just those struggling on benefits that are turning to food banks. Horrifying stories of key workers from the NHS and the Fire Brigade using food banks recently reached the front pages, as inflation continues to grow faster than wages. It has also been reported in the national press that Stockport NHS Foundation Trust has emailed staff advising them they can be issued with Stockport Food Bank vouchers if they are struggling.
Unexpected higher demand in August and September has also meant that many food banks have been unable to stockpile enough food ready for their busiest time of year. While charities continue to apply political pressure, there are some things we can all do to help communities in need.
A-Plan branch food donation points are now running!
You will see our Christmas community food bank collection posters popping up in branch windows up and down the country!
Our 100+ branches, up and down the country, are running Trussell Trust food bank network donation points – all items received will be donated to your local community food bank. Working together, we can make a huge difference this winter.
What can you donate to food banks?
Each of our branches will ascertain the requirements from their community food bank, collect items on their behalf and arrange delivery.
While each community food bank’s requirements may vary slightly, most food banks are seeking ‘the staples’, i.e. items that have a long shelf life and don’t need refrigeration.
It’s also important to include foods that don’t require a lot of cooking due to energy bills, or lack of facilities, or can be eaten cold. And don’t forget to check the ‘best by’ date.
Pop into your local branch (or give them a call, find their details here) to find out what your local food bank is in need of.
Extra food bank tips!
A little extra thought can go a long way…
- If you are a vegetarian, vegan, coeliac or halal, why not donate these types of items? Food banks cater to a wide range of dietary requirements which can be extremely challenging.
- Treats around this time of year are also a good option for children. Multipacks allow the charity to split the bags and place one or two in each parcel.
- Many charities have a zero-alcohol rule, so opt for alcohol-free items, and beware of items such as Christmas pudding which contains brandy.
- Shopping bags are also welcome, from plastic to cotton tote bags, so just pop your donation into a bag and the charity will reuse them.
For those unable to drop off items in person, an alternative is a cash donation or supermarket vouchers paid directly to the charity. These types of donations have seen the greatest drop off over the past few years, and yet remain a huge help to charities in filling the gaps left in food donations – and affording fuel to deliver to the most vulnerable.
The Trussell Trust alone is spending over £1,400 per month on groceries, while the Greenwich food bank is spending £9,000 per month, in addition to donated food, to meet the growing need for food parcels.
The energy crisis has also seen some food banks request blankets and hot-water bottles, so check with your local A-Plan branch who will be collecting exactly what their community food bank requires.
Looking for support this winter?
If you, your neighbour, friend or family member is seeking support, there are resources available to help you.
Both authorities can support you, answer any questions you may have, and refer you to a food bank with a voucher. Food bank staff are aware that customers feel awkward when using a food bank for the first time, and are trained to help everyone feel welcome and relaxed. They can also provide additional support, they are there to help.
Food bank donation points on your high street
Why not call or pop into your local branch to see what items they are collecting this year – and follow and share their progress across social media to help support the community. You can find your local branch here.
Sources: The Trussell Trust, State of Hunger, Food Foundation, Independent Food Aid Network.