Why food banks join our network

There are more than 1,200 food bank centres in our network across the UK. This accounts for roughly 2/3 of food banks.

Food banks choose to be part of our network for a variety of reasons – from feeding in to a larger organisation creating change on a national level to receiving training, quality assurance and resources.

Food banks are individual, community-run charities that have seen an issue in their area and want to take action. No food bank has to join our network – becoming a member of our network is a decision that around 2/3 of food banks in the UK have made. There are independent food banks in the UK, and many of the food banks in our network often have good working relationships with independent food banks in their local area. At a national level we work closely with the Independent Food Aid Network, which works to represent independent food banks.

So what support do we give to our network?

The support we provide is tailored to the things communities running food banks have told us they find useful. We ask for a one-off £1,500 contribution towards the cost of helping set up a food bank, because the resources needed to get a food bank running cost us quite a lot centrally. After this, food banks give £360 a year to be part of our network. This type of financial contribution towards the cost of membership and benefits is common within the charity sector – we do not make a profit out of food banks in our network.

These payments do not cover cost of the support we give, which includes:

  • Grants
  • Training
  • A bespoke data collection system for tracking the number of times emergency food has been provided and donations of stock – this feeds into a national system we use to campaign for change
  • One to one support from a dedicated Area Manager
  • Regional conferences and best practice sharing
  • Annual audits and a quality assurance process
  • Nationally negotiated partnerships and discounts
  • A national platform to campaign for change and lead the debate on how we end the need for food banks

Food banks tell us they’re very happy with the value for money they receive and we work closely with our network to ensure our support remains focused on where they need most help.