How to access your local foodbank

Bowl of blueberries
How to access your local foodbank and what to expect when you get there. 

It’s a difficult time for everyone at the minute, inflation is soaring and food prices are rocketing. You might find yourself needing to access your local foodbank to bridge the gap between paydays.

Read our guide below and the process should be as easy and stress free as possible.

What is a foodbank?

Foodbanks provide non-perishable food to people in crisis. You may need to access a foodbank for a variety of reasons but you will never be judged or criticised at the foodbank for your reasons.

How do foodbanks work?

Food is donated to foodbanks by the public or by organisations. It’s then distributed as emergency food parcels to people on low-incomes.

Can anyone go to a foodbank?

To access your local foodbank you will usually need to be referred by an organisation such as Citizen’s Advice, a charity, a school or your doctors. Some councils also refer people to foodbanks. Check your local council website for more details.

If you are unsure who will be able to refer you locally, contact your local foodbank to ask.

You might be able to use some food banks without a referral, for example, if it’s run by a church. Contact the foodbank directly to check.

How do I get a foodbank voucher?

When you are referred to the foodbank you will be given a food voucher. You will exchange this voucher for a food parcel when you get to the foodbank.

Going to the foodbank

It might seem daunting going to the foodbank for the first time but try not to worry, everyone there will be really friendly and will want to support you in the best way they can. 

When you get to the foodbank you will be given a food parcel to take home.

Food parcels

Your food parcel will contain a minimum of three days’ worth of nutritionally balanced food. The parcel may contain staples such as pasta, rice, tinned vegetables, tea/​coffee, UHT milk and biscuits. 

If you have any specific dietary requirements, tell one of the foodbank volunteers and they will be able to help find the items that are suitable for you.

If you are concerned that you can’t afford to heat the food in the parcel once you get home, speak to one of the foodbank volunteers. They can help find some items that don’t need heating before eating. Some foodbanks are also providing specific no-need-to-heat parcels. 

The food parcels are designed to support you in the short term and aren’t meant to be a substitute for your day-to-day diet. 

How to get to your local foodbank

You should be referred to a foodbank that is local to you and you are able to access by walking, public transport or car. If you are unable to access the foodbank because of accessibility issues, cost of travelling there or other issues, speak to the organisation who referred you and explain the situation. They may be able to help or put you in touch with an organisation that can.

Where to find the location of your local foodbank

Foodbanks are usually set up through the Trussell Trust or run independently. 

Help with your finances

If you’re struggling to get a grip on your finances, read our advice on building a budget.

If you’re struggling to make ends meet each month, read our advice on improving your financial situation.

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