If you cannot collect and donate items, most food banks happily accept cash contributions.
The use of food banks is on the rise, with thousands expected to need extra help this winter. Here’s what you need to know to donate to a food bank
Food bank donations are needed more than ever before in the UK. There is no escaping the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and people are increasingly relying on charity to help them as jobs dry up.
After more than a million children signed up for free school meals this year for the first time, it is clear Covid-19 has put a record number of families across the UK at risk of going hungry. But anyone can donate to our independent food bank, and it is one of the most direct ways of helping local people at their most desperate time.
While the extension of the furlough scheme is likely to prevent thousands of redundancies, the Government u-turn came too late for many and they are expecting to see a huge 61 per cent increase in need for food banks in the final three months of this year.
Never donated to a food bank before? Don’t know where to find the local collection centre near you? Not sure why they exist in the first place? Look no further.
Why you should donate to a food bank
Food bank use has more than doubled in the last six years, with more than 1.9 million people in the UK applying for emergency food aid through the organisation’s network of food banks in the year up to March 31 2020. That’s compared to 913,000 in the year before the end of March 2013.
The UK’s biggest food aid network reported a 47 per cent rise in demand for food banks between April and September 2020 and gave out 1.2 million emergency food parcels in the same time period.
“Research finds that Covid-19 has led to tens of thousands of new people needing to use a food bank for the first time, this is not right. If we don’t take action now, there will be further catastrophic rises in poverty in the future.”
How do food banks work?
Food banks are grassroots services designed to help people in the community who may be struggling to pay for food. Schools, churches and community centres often set up collections for food banks or donation schemes and so do big supermarkets and charities, collecting essential items for people who can’t afford them.
People who need support are referred to food banks by doctors, social workers or Citizens Advice and receive a voucher they can exchange for three days’ worth of emergency food at a food bank centre. Not all food banks require a voucher but most do only help people who have been referred. The idea that lots of people go to food banks for free groceries is a myth – many users report shame and stigma around needing food aid and most people only seek a referral after having no income for at least a month, according to Turn2us.
What can you donate to a food bank?
It may have “food” in the name but it’s not just things to eat and drink you can donate to a food bank. They also give out packs of other essential items like toiletries, tampons, nappies and baby food.
The main thing to bear in mind is that whatever you give may be stored for some time before it goes to those who need it. Avoid things like fresh fruit and veg, fish, meat and dairy products as it might go bad and the food bank is unlikely to accept it.
Do food banks need toiletries?
When it comes to non-food items you can donate to a food bank, this can include deodorant, toilet paper, shower gel, shaving gel, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, tooth paste, hand wipes, sanitary towels and tampons.
Many also accept household items such as laundry powder or liquids and washing up liquid, as well as baby supplies like nappies, baby wipes and baby food.
It is worth remembering that luxury items many of us take for granted are out of the question for people struggling to put food on the table.
You can also play a big part in helping people less fortunate than yourself get the items they need. Hosting a collection at your school, church or business can bring people together, raise awareness and do a good deed all at the same time.
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