Frequently asked questions

We’re being asked lots of questions at the moment about food banks’ plans and how people can continue to access support. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions we see. 

Wherever possible, food bank volunteers and staff will continue to provide support to people in crisis in their local communities.

As the coronavirus pandemic unfolds in the UK, our main priority is ensuring the safety of everyone who comes to a food bank – whether it’s someone needing help, someone volunteering their time, or someone making a donation. It’s hard for us to say exactly what will happen in the coming weeks across the UK – we don’t know precisely how the outbreak will develop, and each food bank in our network is a local charity, run by a community for a community, and each will be affected differently.

We haven’t yet heard that any food bank in our network is running out of all food donations, but food banks are running low on certain items so we really encourage you to support your local food bank if you’re able to. Some might also be changing their opening hours or the way they operate due to the outbreak. You can find your local food bank using our map www.trusselltrust.org/find-a-foodbank and visit their website to see what’s happening in your area.  

We’re working closely with our network to understand each food bank’s situation, offer guidance, and work out how we can best support them. Wide-ranging conversations are underway with national partners, exploring how we can work together to help ensure people can access support in the coming weeks, how we get vital food to the places it’s most needed, and how we can help boost volunteer numbers in areas where extra support might be needed.

We’re issuing daily guidance to the food banks in our network in line with the latest government advice and will continue to develop our response as the situation develops. You can stay up to date on our actions here: www.trusselltrust.org/coronavirus-food-banks.   

The food banks in our network rely on donations from their local communities. We’re expecting to see more people needing to use food banks over the coming weeks as a result of the pandemic and if you’re able to support your local food bank either by donating food, offering financial support, or volunteering we would really encourage you to get involved.

You can find out more about what items are included in our standard food parcel here www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/emergency-food/food-parcel, and it’s worth keeping an eye on your local food bank’s website and social media platforms for more information about what items they’re particularly in need of. You can drop off items at the food bank itself or a local donation point; you’ll find those details on their website too.

If you’d like to make a financial donation to your local food bank, you can do so through the local food bank website’s ‘Donate Money’ page. You can also donate directly to the Trussell Trust via www.trusselltrust.org/get-involved/ways-to-give or by contacting our Supporter Care team on 01722 580 178 or supportercare@trusselltrust.org.

For more information on volunteering, head to www.trusselltrust.org/get-involved/volunteer.   

We know that food banks often see an increase in the number of emergency parcels provided to children during the school holidays, when there is extra financial pressure on families who rely on free school meals. We’re working to understand the impact of the government’s recent announcements about school closures and what support the government is planning to provide to families on low incomes.

We would advise families who are worried they don’t have enough money for food to contact their local food bank to see how they can access support. Because each food bank in our network is an independent charity, it’s difficult to say what support they will be able to offer schools as the picture will look different in different areas.

Find your local food bank here www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank and get in touch to understand their plans. Many of the food banks in our network are running reduced services with fewer volunteers, so it’s likely they will struggle to deliver extra services like a lunch club, but they may be able to talk to you about how to ensure families can get emergency food parcels if needed.  

During this time of uncertainty, any donations would be much appreciated, particularly as food banks are likely to see an increase in the number of food parcels given out over the next few weeks. Food banks look after their own food donations, so if you want to donate get in touch with your local food bank www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank.

You can also ask them what items they’re most in need of. If they’re not able to respond to your enquiry due to an increased volume of calls and emails, you can find the items in our standard packing list here www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/emergency-food/food-parcel or look on their website or social media.

If you would prefer to make a financial donation, you’ll be able to do this on the local food bank website’s ‘Donate Money’ page. You can also donate directly to the Trussell Trust via www.trusselltrust.org/get-involved/ways-to-give or by contacting our Supporter Care team on 01722 580 178 or supportercare@trusselltrust.org.  

By volunteering for your food bank and being a voice for change in your community, you can make a real difference to people’s lives. Across the UK, food banks in the coming months may need extra volunteers to help sort and pack donations in their warehouse, collect donations from supermarkets, and deliver food to people in crisis. If you would like to volunteer, please register for more information here www.trusselltrust.org/get-involved/volunteer.   

If you need a food parcel because you’re unable to afford food, find your local food bank here www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank and get in touch with them to find out which referral agency you need to speak to or get hold of to get a voucher, as the food banks in our network work on a voucher referral system. If you’re self-isolating, you’ll need to talk to the food bank about whether or not they can deliver a food parcel or whether someone would need to collect it for you.

If you can afford food or aren’t in financial difficulty but can’t get to the shops because you’re self-isolating, you should contact your local council or Citizens Advice for support. Food banks can only help people who don’t have enough money for food and many are having to run reduced services in order to do this safely during the outbreak, so they’re not best placed to deliver to you.   

Find your local food bank here www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank and check with them to see what their current process is. They might be asking people to provide them with addresses so food can be delivered, or they might see if someone could pick it up on your behalf. They’ll do whatever they can to make sure you get the support you need.  

The Trussell Trust is working with various partners to monitor the situation and continue to offer support. If the referral agency a food bank has told you to contact is shut, contact the food bank directly for advice on what to do next. They may have emergency food boxes with partner organisations in the area, or may know of other referral partners that are open or running a telephone service. For example, many Citizens Advice staff are working at home or on an appointment only basis. You can find the details of your local food bank here www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank.   

We’re working closely with our network to understand each food bank’s situation and offer support, as well as with national partners to explore how we can work together to make sure people can access support in the coming weeks.

But this cannot fall to food banks alone, so we’re also talking to the government about what’s happening in our network and what changes could protect people from needing a food bank’s help as the pandemic unfolds.

It’s now more important than ever that we end the five week wait for Universal Credit. As the outbreak develops, more people than ever could need to use our benefits system – especially those who aren’t eligible for sick pay or have unstable jobs. We’re asking the government to take this essential step and make sure that the benefits system is the life-raft people need. Join the campaign now at www.trusselltrust.org/five-weeks-too-long.