Here's How You Can Help Your Local Food Bank This Christmas

Marianna Gould
Photo credit: Jeff J Mitchell - Getty Images

From Delish

It’s that time of the year where families come together to celebrate all things festive. And a big part is preparing for Christmas day itself, buying everything needed to make the perfect Christmas dinner.

But for some, it’s not that simple. More people than ever are being forced to rely on Food Banks throughout the year, including over the festive period.

A survey carried out by Trussell Trust, one of the UK’s largest networks of food banks, confirmed that the last six months have been the busiest on record for food banks with a need for emergency parcels soaring to 23%.

Between April and September 2019 823,145 food parcels were given to people from food banks in the Trussell Trust network ALONE and they anticipate this December to be their busiest yet.

Research shows that there are now over 2000 food banks in the UK that people use for a number of reasons ranging from low-income, benefit delays and homelessness.

According to The Independent, Chief Executive of Trussell Trust, Emma Revie said: "Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration – but for too many people it’s becoming harder and harder to keep their heads above water."

With the help of Trussell Trust, here’s some advice on how to help this Christmas.

Ways to donate food

  • Find your nearest food bank and donate directly.
  • Donate via collection points located in supermarkets across the country.
  • Host a collection at your local school, church or business for your food bank.

What should you donate?

It’s not just about everyday food items, Trussell Trust would love people to donate festive treats, too.

“It’d great if people could donate festive treats to food banks in the lead up to Christmas but to also remember these festive additions accompany a standard three-day emergency food parcel,” they told Delish UK. “Food banks also rely on these donations all year round."

So, if you've bought one too many advent calendars this year, Christmas puds or some Christmas biccies, then head on down to your local food bank and help do your bit this Christmas.

And believe it or not, the charity told us that there are a couple of items that some food banks are normally inundated with including baked beans, pasta and also mince pies! So, if you can, maybe try donating some other types of food products this year, but if not, it’s still no problem at all as everything is appreciated.

You can always reach out directly to your local food bank to find out exactly what they’re short on.

What is a reverse advent calendar?

A reverse advent calendar is different to your average advent calendar in the way it gives back. Rather than receiving goodies at Christmas time for yourself, you can give back to those less fortunate by donating items of food or clothing to local food banks and charities. Christmas is all about giving, after all.

Trussell Trust gave us some guidance on how best to take part in your own reverse advent calendar.

  1. Get in touch with your local food bank and let them know that you are planning to do a reverse advent calendar.
  2. Start early! Donations should be with your local food bank no later than the week before Christmas, so starting in November or reducing the number of days on your calendar is the best way to make sure there’s enough time to sort through your donation and get it to people in time. The sooner you can drop your donation off in December, the better.
  3. It’s always nice to include some festive treats but your donation may well be given out in January, so a surplus of mince pies and Christmas puddings may not be ideal! Often your food bank will have a list of items that make up a standard food parcel, so please do take a look at these.
  4. Arrange with your local food bank a suitable time to drop your donation off with them (contact details can be found on The Trussell Trust’s website by entering your postcode into the map), so they can ensure that someone will be there to receive it.

How to use Trussell Trust food banks yourself

To use Trussell Trust food banks, you must get a voucher from professionals such as doctors, health visitors, social workers or Citizens Advice. This will entitle you to an emergency parcel. While the Trussell Trust has a guideline suggesting three vouchers is the most one person can use, the charity is compassionate and uses its discretion, with clients receiving more ongoing support when needed.