Our guide to foodbanks

A food bank is a place where donated food is given out to those who need it in a crisis. Food banks are often set up in places like community centres and churches, and run by volunteers.

A volunteer working in a Trussell Trust food bank

Who can use a food bank?

Not everyone can use a food bank – you have to be referred by a care professional, such as:

  • a doctor
  • a social worker
  • a health visitor
  • the police
  • somebody from the Citizens Advice Bureau
  • a member of housing staff, such as a housing officer, financial inclusion officer or tenancy support officer.

When you’re referred, you’ll be given a voucher, which you should take to your nearest food bank.

What help do food banks provide?

When you hand over your voucher you’ll be given three days’ worth of food, including things like:

  • UHT milk
  • sugar
  • fruit juice
  • soup
  • pasta and pasta sauces
  • rice
  • tinned fruit and vegetables
  • tinned meat and fish
  • biscuits and snacks.

What else can food banks help with?

Food banks can also help with important non-food items, like toothpaste, deodorant and toilet roll.

Depending on what’s available at your local food bank, you may find volunteers who can offer advice and support. They may be able to refer you to a relevant agency to help you with financial or emotional problems.

Staff at food banks should be welcoming, friendly and non-judgmental as they know how hard it can be to ask for help.

How many times can I visit a food bank?

You can normally get up to four food bank vouchers issued, as it’s meant to be a short-term solution. Some food banks will be flexible and may be able to provide more.

If you’re struggling with financial issues get in touch with us for support on how to manage your money.

Where’s my nearest food bank?

There’s a food bank in most communities. There’s no central list of all the food banks in the country, but a good place to start is the Trussell Trust website as they manage most of the UK’s food banks.

Your local Citizens Advice Bureau or job centre will also be able to help.

Food banks aren’t usually open all week, so check the opening times of yours before you travel.