If you or someone you know is struggling to buy food the following organisations may be able to help.
Most food banks need a referral, you cannot just turn up. There are other crisis options in our accessing low cost meals page, including emergency food options for evenings and weekends (you can also download the list of free or cheap food options here).
Vulnerable people, whether it is you or someone you know, should contact the Social Care Access point to request a social care assessment which will also assess food needs.
The first step is to get help with resolving any underlying money issues. There are several local money advice providers who can help with benefits, debt and budgeting advice. Most can also refer to food banks.
Advice Brighton & Hove list all the local advice services and you can use the search box to search by area or by type of advice. Or for phone advice call the Moneyworks advice line on 0800 988 7037 or 01273 809288 or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Moneyworks is a partnership of Advice agencies including the Money Advice Plus.
Here is a handy guide about Universal Credit in Brighton.
Most food banks need a referral, you cannot just show up. To get a referral contact one of the advice agencies in the city (see above). Or you can apply yourself to the Local Discretionary Social Fund if you are eligible.
If you are an advisor or health professional and want to refer someone to a local food bank, please see our referring to food banks and emergency food page.
Local Discretionary Social Fund (LDSF)
When people ask about food banks, the Food Partnership signposts eligible people to this fund instead, as it can provide more help and is usually quicker.
You are eligible if you have applied for, or are on, means tested benefits or tax credits or a low income and facing some kind of emergency or if you need help living independently. You may receive supermarket food vouchers and/or help to purchase white goods (such as a cooker or a fridge) or help with fuel bills. Online application or call on 01273 293117.
Other considerations when tackling Food Poverty
Access to cooking equipment
It is hard to eat well on a budget without a cooker or a fridge. Or a set of saucepans. The Local Discretionary Social Fund can help provide cookers or fridges.
The Brighton SVP Furniture Scheme of the St Vincent de Paul Society can provide furniture and basic white goods for individuals and families living in Brighton & Hove who rely solely on benefits. Referrals can be made by social workers or health visitors. They should call 01273 501 114 with background information. The SVP will send an assessor, work out their needs and issue a voucher.
Brighton Food Bank can provide basic cooking equipment (saucepans etc) to those moving from homelessness by referral from agencies.
Benevolent funds for former occupations (e.g. military, teachers, transport, care workers) may help. Try searching the Turn2Us website. This site is also a good source of information about covering unexpected expenses such as funerals. Locally, over-55s in need can try the Derek and Eileen Dodgson Foundation.
If tenants in private rented accommodation have broken or dangerous cooking, washing, heating or toilet facilities, Environmental Health can make the landlord fix these (if the facilities are provided by landlord not the tenant). Call 01273 293156.
Larger shared houses with five or more unrelated people living in them (just three or more people in some areas of the city) must be licensed as ‘houses in multiple occupation’ (HMOs). Cooking and food storage facilities must be provided including sinks, hot & cold water, cookers, electrical sockets, worktops, cupboards and fridge/freezers. Environmental Health (see link above) will enforce this. Call 01273 293156.
It is hard to eat well on a budget if you don’t know how to cook. The Food Partnership often run low cost cooking courses. Other places which can help with cooking skills include:
- 16 Plus Support Service offer support for people under 21 leaving care
- BHT First Base Day Centre’s Catering Training project is for people wanting to access employment in the catering industry and gain skills, though they do accept clients wanting to learn more about eating well on a budget, food and mood, nutrition etc. It’s for people who are street homeless, in temporary accommodation or in hostels. Contact for an application form.
- Various other cooking and healthy eating classes run regularly. Check The Bridge, the WEA, and the Honeycroft Centre for details
Saving on gas and electricity means more money for food
Energy efficiency schemes often change so please follow this link for more information about what is available.
Eating Well on a Budget
The Food Partnership’s budget eating advice includes money saving tips and links to budget recipes. We can also offer advice on reducing food waste at home
We also have information on free & cheap meals outside the home e.g. lunch clubs, community cafes and other shared meals.
Printed Eating Well on a Budget guide leaflets are available free of charge to local health and community organisations who may also be eligible for a free, fun ‘Eating Well on a Budget’ workshop delivered by a qualified Food Partnership nutritionist. Contact Jo Lewin for more details.
If you have children
Healthy Start Vouchers
These are worth £3.10 a week per child to spend on milk, fresh fruit and vegetables. They are for people who are receiving benefits and are either pregnant or have children under the age of four; or who are pregnant and under 18. You can apply online or through your GP.
Free School Meals
Children whose parents receive certain benefits (but not working tax credit) are entitled to receive free school meals. Find out if your child is entitled. You can find out more and apply on line.
The council will help you apply. Email or call the Free School Meals Team on 01273 293497. You will need to tell them your National Insurance Number or your National Asylum Seeker Number (NASS), your date of birth, and your surname (as it appears on your benefit letter).
School holiday meals
One Church Brighton (Gloucester Place, near the Old Steine) run a lunch club called Chomp during the school holidays where children and their families, who usually rely on free school meals, can enjoy a free healthy meal and fun activity.