With the huge take up in people now using food banks in the UK, the food banks themselves are having to diversify to meet demand and most crucially raise funds.
Between 1st April 2017 and 31st March 2018, The Trussell Trust’s foodbank network distributed 1,332,952 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis, a 13% increase on the previous year. 484,026 of these went to children. This is a higher increase than the previous financial year, where foodbank use was up by 6%.
The Trussell Trust’s website says the following:
For the first time, new national data highlights the growing proportion of foodbank referrals due to benefit levels not covering the costs of essentials, driving the increase in foodbank use overall. ‘Low income – benefits, not earning’ is the biggest single, and fastest growing, reason for referral to a foodbank, with ‘low income’ accounting for 28% of referrals UK-wide compared to 26% in the previous year. Analysis of trends over time demonstrates it has significantly increased since April 2016, suggesting an urgent need to look at the adequacy of current benefit levels.
On a practical level what can you and I do?
Donations – money, clothing, toiletries and of course, food. But what foods should we be donating? Tinned, dried and packets are the answer – and practical ones at that. There’s no point in sending along that tin of anchovies or Christmas chestnuts that have been lurking at the back of the cupboard for month or even years. These are useless to a food bank who are looking for consistency in donations and will have a list of what they are short of and are in need of. Make sure the food that you are donating is in date and that the packaging is sound.
The list of foods you can donate include:
Soups (tinned and packet)
Tinned fruit and vegetables
Sponge and rice puddings
Custard (tinned and packet)
Rice / Pasta
Feminine hygiene products are also high on the list due to ‘period poverty’ and are welcomed by food banks as are washing powder, washing up liquid and toilet rolls. It’s very easy to donate as most supermarkets have drop points and how difficult is it to pick up a few extras during your weekly shop? Some food banks also hold clothes sales to raise funds so enquire and donate clothing items as well.
We visited our local food bank in Cowes on the Isle of Wight and were completely blown away by not just the sheer volume of donations but also by rooms of very affordable and good quality clothing which is for sale. From designer labels to school uniform, the clothes were well presented and within the price range (particularly in the case of school uniform from 50p) of most. We also learned that the entitlement to help from the food bank is three lots of three days food – so nine days, in every six months. There is an awful lot of bad press about who is entitled to food and that the system is misused, but we now understand that these few are truly the exception to the deserving rule. So if you have misconceptions, would like to donate or volunteer, go on, get informed and do it today!
If you’d like to find out where your local food bank is or find out more about The Trussell Trust then you can : HERE
Words: Amber Beard
Pictures: Christine Taylor