Life

Food banks gave out more supplies than ever last year – here’s how you can help

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Natasha Preskey
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Trussell Trust has distributed more than 650,000 food parcels in the past six months – a year-on-year increase of 13%. These are some easy ways you can lend your support. 

Food banks gave out a record amount of emergency supplies in 2017, according to figures from the Trussell Trust.

The charity, which manages food banks across the UK, reported that it had distributed 1.3 million three-day food packages – a 13% increase from the previous year. In the last six months, the charity has handed out more than 650,000 food parcels

Now, Sainsbury’s has launched shelf-edge labels to help shoppers easily identify the products that are most useful to food banks. From Friday 30 December, branches across the UK the supermarket will be urging customers to donate priority items such as tinned fish, meat and vegetables, longlife fruit juice and dried or UHT milk in their shop, for donation after checkout. The scheme will continue all year round – not just for Christmas. 

Want to help your local food bank? Here are some simple things you can do. 

Donate sanitary items, cosmetics and beauty products 

Food banks aren’t only for food. They also collect items like sanitary products, toiletries and some cosmetics.

Earlier this year, beauty editor Sali Hughes and PR director Jo Jones set up Beauty Banks, an initiative to provide food banks not only with essentials like toothbrushes and tampons, but also with things like moisturiser and lipstick. These items can brighten someone’s day at a time when they can’t justify spending money on ‘non-essential’ items or may help a person feel more confident when looking for work.

Beauty Banks distributes donations to food banks and homeless shelters around the UK. To send them items, package it all up (not including any solvents like perfume or nail polish) and post to:

BEAUTY BANKS

c/o JO JONES

THE COMMUNICATIONS STORE

2 KENSINGTON SQUARE

LONDON W8 5EP

Can’t be faffed with the post? You can also order items from Beauty Banks’ Easho wish list here and get them sent direct to the organisation. 

Donate these foods

Want to give food supplies to your local food bank? First of all, you can find the closest one to you by searching here. Many supermarkets like Tesco also have their own collection points.

Food banks are after nutritionally-balanced non-perishables including: cereal, tinned soup, rice, dried pasta, pasta sauce, lentils, beans, pulses, tinned meat, tinned fruit and veg, tea and coffee, biscuits, UHT milk and fruit juice. Look out for Sainsbury’s shelf-edge labels to help you when picking items this year. 

Nora Roe told Stylist via Twitter that the Action Homeless food bank where she works is always in need of adult incontinence pads, and that rice and UHT milk are two of the highest-demand items that people should consider donating. 

Donate as little as £1

Short on time? Make a regular or one-off donation to the Trussell Trust. One-off donations can be made online, by text or via post. 

Volunteer even a few hours of your time

Cash-poor but time-rich? Food bank volunteers fill a variety of roles including meeting clients to distribute supplies, helping out at a warehouse or assisting with supermarket collections. Contact your local food bank to find out how you can be most helpful to them - you can offer a few hours to two days per week. 

Ask for food bank donations as a present 

Birthday or wedding coming up? Asking your pals for a food bank donation instead of a Zara voucher or a Nutribullet could make a real difference to someone who’s in crisis. If you decide to give someone else a donation to Trussell Trust as a gift, you can arrange via telephone for a thank you card to be sent to the gift-receiver.

 To find out more, visit trusselltrust.org

Images: Getty

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