Food poverty advice
If you are experiencing food poverty, the following organisations and services may be able to help you afford healthy, nutritious food.
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 01273 809288. Council tenants and council leaseholders can contact the MACS money advice service on 01273 664000.
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 apply to the Local Discretionary Social Fund instead (more information below).
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 which also lists all the food banks in the city.
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.
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 Eileen and Derek 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 they 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 run a range of 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 that also want 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, The Whitehawk Inn and the Honeycroft Centre for details.
Saving on gas and electricity means more money for food
Energy efficiency schemes often change. Currently these two government schemes are available locally (updated Oct 2014):
- Energy Company Obligation grant - up to 100% of the cost of things like replacement boilers and home insulation. (if receiving certain benefits).
- 'Green Deal' - loan scheme to pay toward the same items (if you don't receive benefits). The loan is paid off through affordable repayments through the electricity bill.
To check if eligible and apply contact C. Mitten Plumbing and Heating, on 01273 724486 or 0800 5999 089 and quote 'Your Energy Sussex'. Or for energy advice contact Brighton & Hove Community Energy Services on 01273 737080 or The Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234.
Budget eating advice
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.
Printed 'Eating Well on a Budget' leaflets are available free of charge to local health and community organisations.
Community groups 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 or 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 run a lunch club called Chomp during the school holidays at a range of locations across the city. Children and their families who usually rely on free school meals can enjoy a free healthy meal and fun activity.