FOOD banks across the country provide free support for vulnerable households who can’t afford essentials.

Due to the cost of living crisis, more people will depend on emergency services such as food banks – we explain how to apply or donate to one.

Free food parcels contain non-perishable items and are lifelines for many hard-up families


Free food parcels contain non-perishable items and are lifelines for many hard-up familiesCredit: Getty

There’s almost 15 million people living in poverty in the UK.

More than 2.5 million food bank parcels were handed out to those struggling to make ends meet by The Trussel Trust between April 2020 and March 2021 – a record number so far.

And as the cost of living crisis continues to grip the nation, these services could become even more dependable.

The 54% rise in the energy price cap this April will affect around 22 million energy customers, meaning food vouchers or parcels could become a lifeline to thousands more.

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Where can I find a food bank?

The Trussel Trust is a non-government owned organisation and charity that is working to end food poverty.

You can find your local foodbank by typing your postcode into the online search bar on its website.

Doing so will bring up your nearest food banks along with contact details such as emails and telephone numbers for them.

How can I apply for help from a foodbank?

There are over 1,200 Trussel Trust food banks offering support, but you can’t apply for help directly with them.

You will need to be referred by one of your local community organisations.

Examples of these are GPs, schools, churches, or advice agencies such as Citizens Advice.

If you’re not sure which local organisation can refer you, speak to your local food bank for some guidance.

Once you have been identified as being in a crisis, you’ll be given a food bank voucher.

This grants you with a minimum of three day’s worth of emergency food that is non-perishable and nutritionally balanced.

There are around 900 independent food banks, and applications and support for these may differ, so it’s best to speak to them directly.

The Independant Food Aid Network (IFAN) has a handy map that can help you find one of these independent food banks.

How can I donate to a food bank?

If you’d like to help out with the food poverty crisis, you have three options.

You can donate money, food items, or you can become a volunteer.

If you opt to provide food donations, you need to make sure the items you’re giving are suitable for the support packages.

The products have to be in-date, and they have to be non-perishable items such as cereals, pastas, and tinned goods.

You can drop your items off at the food bank directly, but check its opening hours before stopping by to avoid unexpected closures.

Otherwise you can simply drop the bits off at donation points which are typically seen in supermarkets, schools, and some workplaces.

Some of the supermarkets with donation points in store include:

  • Tesco’s
  • Sainbury’s
  • Morrisons
  • Asda
  • Lidl
  • Aldi
  • M&S
  • Waitrose
  • Iceland
  • Co-op

Remember that certain non-food items are essentials too, such as sanitary products and toiletries.

It’s a good idea to check what you local food bank is running low on beforehand to donate the most sought after items.

If you’d rather donate your money, you can do so via Trussel Trust’s website.

It gives you the option to make a one off payment or set up a regular donation if you’d like to continue supporting the cause.

Trussel Trust isn’t the only food charity you can donate to, check out IFAN and Bankuet which are both fighting to end the food poverty crisis too.

To become a volunteer, contact your local food bank to find out how to sign up and donate your time as they will likely be in need of extra hands.

Other help you can get if you’re struggling

If you’re struggling with essential costs, food banks aren’t your only option.

There are also schemes in place by the government and local councils, such as the Household Support scheme which provides support in the form of vouchers, one off payments and more.

You can also apply for the welfare assistance scheme which helps low income families with necessities like food and other bills.

Some charities also offer free help towards energy bills – and you could get up to £750.

If you’re pregnant or responsible children under four, you could get healthy start vouchers.

Free school meals may also be available to your household if you meet certain criteria.

The £150 council tax rebate will also be available for some.

You can also seek free advice from many organisations including:

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