How Do Food Banks Work?

Did you know there are more than 400 food banks across the country? How do they work and could you help your local food bank?

The recent recession and economic crisis has seen a huge increase in the number of people who visit food banks in order to get food that ordinarily they may not be able to afford. In 2012, Trussell Trust operated food banks provided emergency food for around 350,000 UK citizens, amongst them an estimated 130,000 children.

Stratford Food Bank

Photo taken from Bromford on

Who Donates to Food Banks?

All sorts of different people and organisations donate food. Those who donate include schools, businesses, supermarkets and churches, as well as individuals who often choose to add an extra item or items to their weekly shop for the food bank. Items that are donated are usually in-date non-perishables such as tinned foods and soups, cereals, tea and coffee, rice and bottled drinks. Once food has been donated, volunteers sort through the items to check that they’re in date and then prepare them to hand out to those who are in need.

Who Qualifies?

It’s a common misconception that people who do not want to pay for food go to their local food bank rather than purchasing items from their local supermarket. This is not the case. People who are in need of emergency food supplies are handed vouchers to use in their local food banks by people such as doctors and police, and others in the care profession such as social workers, health workers and the Citizens Advice Bureau. People can’t simply turn up and get issued with food parcels.

Telford Food Bank

Photo taken from

Food Parcels and Advice

Each emergency food parcel is designed to last the person or family it’s intended for a minimum of three days. Food banks provide much more than emergency consumables. The volunteers who work at food banks also take the time to offer advice to the people who come in for emergency parcels. They not only provide a kind listening ear but can also point people in the direction of other agencies that can help them through tough times.

Your Local Food Bank

You can find out more about the Warwick and Leamington Food Bank by visiting their website. On here you will find all sorts of useful information including opening times, volunteering guidelines, donation info, budget recipe ideas from leading chefs and much more.

By Amy Shepherd (Action 21 volunteer)