How many people use food banks in the UK
The Trussell Trust is the biggest food bank provider in the UK. In 2016/17 it handed out around 1.2 million food packs. And Trussell food packs only account for about half the food given out by the combination of food banks in this country, which shows how massive food poverty is.
The inability to buy enough food to live is a growing issue and, amongst other welfare issues, part of that is the long wait people have to endure to get access to universal credit.
Why we should give healthy food to food banks
While it’s wonderful that people give to food banks, and very necessary so that disadvantaged people can eat, the quality of food donated can be very poor and health isn’t always the priority. I know from working with a homeless project that people are often given foods that are artificially sweetened and full of additives, highly processed and with poor quality ingredients. The food provides calories, but nutrition-wise it’s very depressing fodder. Everyone is entitled to good nutrition. Eating well helps people to stay healthy and disease-free, and to feel strong and robust to face life’s challenges. Poor quality food affects mood for the worse, in an already depressing situation. A good, healthy, meal can give people a slice of joy in their day. By giving nutritious food you will be contributing to people’s health and happiness as well as helping stop their hunger.
Look here to find a foodbank near you.
What healthy food is suitable to give to food banks?
It’s easy to buy healthy things to donate, plenty comes packaged in tins and boxes and is non-perishable, and doesn’t cost the earth.
Bear in mind people may not not have enough money for the energy meter to be able to cook things for long, so tinned things can be more practical in that sense as they are already cooked and can just be reheated. Other things like tuna, sweetcorn, pre-cooked rice and mayo can be put together and eaten cold.
So, what can you give?
Here are 25 healthy foods to give to food banks. It might seem that some things are extravagant, like olive oil, but everyone deserves good nutritious food, it’s not about fashion-food, it’s about health.
- pouches of pre-cooked rice and grains
- porridge oats
- bags of mixed seeds
- bags of unsulphured dried fruit
- tinned fruit in juice not syrup
- wholegrain pasta and noodles
- vacuum packed gnocchi and filled pasta
- bags of different rices – basmati, long grain, arborio
- olive oil
- tinned tomatoes
- tinned and dried lentils
- tins and packets of mixed beans and chickpeas
- tinned sweetcorn and peas
- jarred vegetables such as sun dried tomatoes
- jars of curry paste
- tinned or jarred tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel
- dried spices and herbs
- tomato purée
- peanut butter
- jarred pesto
- jar of good mayonnaise
- good salt and black pepper
You could even print some easy quick recipes to put in!
Why is food bank use growing so fast?
Despite increasing evidence of food bank use, governments have played down the financial pressures on families caused by welfare cuts, benefit delays, lack of secure employment and low income. A recent comment from Government was that people use food banks for “many complex reasons”, totally sidestepping state issues. Prof Jon May, chair of the Independent Food Aid Network, talked of the changing geography of poverty. “There are now food banks in almost every community, from the East End of London to the Cotswolds.”
It seems inexcusable in these times of mass consumerism that so many people are forced to go without the basic needs of human health and existence. Until the Government addresses that it’s up each of to us to step up and give practical help.
“If you can’t feed a hundred people then feed just one”