What food banks are crying out for this Christmas – and the festive favourite they’re BANNED from handing out
Christmas is the time of year that’s most about family, friends food and goodwill – but what if you didn’t have enough cash to feed your family?
It’s a growing problem, with rising rents and prices coupled with low or no pay rises and benefit cuts – and that means more and more people are being forced to food banks.
The Trussell Trust, who runs 400 UK food banks, said more than 1.8 million emergency food handouts were given this year, an astonishing 436,938 of them to children.
“Christmas is always a peak, but it’s definitely much more than last year,” the Cardiff Trussell Trust Food Bank said.
It’s the same picture at an independent Oxford food bank. “We’ve seen a soaring demand for the food bank this year. We’re very concerned the situation will worsen in the months leading up to Christmas, when demand for emergency food spikes, and when the number of food bank recipients in areas of full Universal Credit service will triple,” they said.
As a response, food banks are asking people to help, to buy an extra present of food for the people who can’t afford to feed themselves or their families this Christmas.
“To help make Christmas for those in need, we need festive things like sweets, chocolates and condiments,” the Cardiff Trussell Trust Food Bank said.
“Christmas should be a time of delight, spectacle and wonder for children. But families are struggling. Many can’t even put tinned veg on the table,” said Tom Church, co-founder of LatestDeals.co.uk .
“Next time you’re in the supermarket, add some extra basics to your basket and donate them to your local food bank. It’s a simple gesture which defines what Christmas is about.”
But before you fill an extra basket for people less fortunate – you better beware: At least one Christmas staple is banned.
What you really shouldn’t donate
Alcohol isn’t something food banks give out, for fairly obvious reasons, as much as it’s part of Christmas for millions of families.
But more than that, it’s also a large part of a lot of festive staples.
A classic Christmas pudding will include as much as 5% brandy, with others also including cider, sherry and rum.
Mince pies are also frequently made with brandy – and that’s before we get onto Christmas cakes. Even stollen can be made with rum or other spirits.
That means, according to food bank volunteers we’ve spoken to, in many cases boozy puddings, cakes and pies get left on the side.
“We are always so grateful to people in local communities for their incredibly generous donations to foodbanks,” said Samantha Stapley, Trussell Trust head of operations for England.
“However, we don’t take donations of alcoholic beverages, and though we do take foods with a negligible alcohol content, such as chocolates or Christmas puddings, we’d recommend people donate other items, such as tinned veg, meat, and toiletries, which are more likely to run out.”
What food banks need at the moment
We spoke to the Trussell Trust to find out what they’re looking for most at the moment – this is what they told us:
- Advent calendars (if this could be one of the first ones, early in December that would be really useful)
- Tinned veg (beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, potatoes etc)
- Tinned meat and fish
- Tinned beans (chickpeas, kidney beans, baked beans)
- UHT long-life milk
- Fruit juice
- Tinned fruit (pineapples
- Rice pudding
- Toilet paper
- Tampons/sanitary products
- Toiletries: shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream
- Condiments (mustard, ketchup)
- Instant mash
- Tea, coffee, other drinks like hot chocolate
- Pasta, rice
- Tinned soup (meat and vegetarian)
- Pasta sauce, other sauces (curry sauce, pesto)
- Tin openers
- Baby food
- Money – for overheads like warehouse space, vans etc
- Christmas presents for kids (soft toys, toy cars etc),
- Ambient Christmas items (stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy)
- Enquire about volunteering!