During the pandemic, more people than ever before have been reaching out to their communities for support. This has included everything from getting shopping for a neighbour and lending a listening ear to organising community events and projects like virtual get-togethers. We’ve shown our community spirit while clapping for carers, queuing at supermarkets and supporting appeals for everything from hand-me-down baby clothes to homemade face coverings.
Food banks are a vital source of support for many people living in our communities. There are organisations across the East Midlands providing not only food but also toiletries, cleaning products and sanitary products. They rely on donations from their local community, funding from charities and local government and the support of the public, to make sure they can support those who need it most during times of crisis.
There are lots of ways you can help food banks. If you’re in a position to make a donation, food banks can usually accept the following items:
- dried goods – pasta, rice, couscous, noodles, porridge oats, biscuits, preserves (like jam or ketchup)
- tinned food – meat, beans and pulses, soup, vegetables
- long-life products like milk, sugar, hot chocolate, tea and coffee
- sanitary products – tampons, sanitary pads, incontinence aids and liners
- baby products – baby food and nappies in a range of sizes – not formula milk
- toiletries – shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, soap, hand sanitiser
- cleaning products – antibacterial wipes and sprays, cloths, washing up liquid, laundry detergent.
You can also contact your nearest food bank ahead of time to ask if they’re running low on anything, or offer to donate money so they can enhance the packages they create with fresh food like bread and milk. Sometimes, they will run specific campaigns and request items for families with children like advent calendars or Easter eggs, so keep an eye out on social media for these appeals.
Alternatively, if you’re in a position to share your time, you could also contact your local food bank to see if they’re accepting volunteers to support them with everything from creating food parcels to handing them out to those most in need.
Whatever you can do to support your community will be very much appreciated, and will make a real difference to the lives of the people who live in your area. There’s no one type of person who uses a food bank – you might be helping a supermarket key worker who had to turn down work because their child was ill, an elderly person with an unexpected heating bill, or a nurse who had to prioritise getting to work on the bus over buying food for the week.
Don’t forget, food banks are there to support you and your community in times of real crisis. We ask that you use them responsibly and only access these services when truly needed. If you’re experiencing difficulty don’t suffer in silence - help is available.
You may need a voucher to access your local food bank, which can be provided from frontline services like doctors, social workers, and Citizens Advice. If you’re a Futures’ customer you can also contact our money advice team who can help you to get a voucher. They, and organisations like Citizens Advice, can also provide advice about anything from benefits and claiming what you’re entitled to, to budgeting and money management. Don’t be afraid to reach out – support is available and your community is there for you.
Find your local food bank: