What can you do to help people facing food poverty this Christmas?
by Emily O’Brien, Project Manager
At this time of year, we often get asked about how to donate to food banks. One recent idea is a reverse advent calendar – when you take a bag or box and put a daily or weekly donation in, which you take along a week or two before Xmas. Both Whitehawk Food Bank and Brighton Food Bank have a ‘shopping list’ for reverse advent calendars on their website and the dates by which your donations need dropping off.
You can also ask your local food bank what they most need and when they need it by, as most are closed during Christmas. Visit our directory to find one near you.
We asked food banks in the city what they most need for Christmas and here is their wish list:
- toiletries (Christmas treats but also basics such as shower gel, shampoo deodorant and sanitary items – in demand all year)
- hot chocolate, tea, coffee (needed all year)
- tinned ham (or any tinned meat and fish –needed all year)
- tokens to pass on to teenagers
- jams, ‘hamper friendly’ foods, Christmas treats
- biscuits. chocolates, fruit
We always stress food poverty and food access is not just about food banks and not always about food. Time to Talk Befriending need more than 50 volunteers for their Thinking of you at Christmas campaign to provide 120 Christmas meals across Brighton and Hove. Community Works will be able to suggest organisations who may need volunteer help. Email or call 01273 234 826.
Or you could setup a regular donation to FareShare Sussex who redistribute surplus food to the majority of food banks as well as many lunch clubs and homeless projects in the city and beyond.
You could also think of Chomp, who provide free healthy lunch and fun activities to children and their families who struggle to eat well during the school holidays. They always need volunteers and cash donations. This year they are selling gift vouchers as alternative presents – a £20 voucher will provide 15 families with a nutritious meal. You could help them make up a hamper for one of their families. Our comms officer Caroline, who is sadly leaving us, has asked the Food Partnership team to donate to a Chomp reverse advent calendar instead of getting her a leaving present. Any non-perishable foods are welcome as well as items from the list above.
A night shelter is being opened up at the Brighton Centre, they need lots of donations of goods and volunteer help.
Our where to donate food page gives some more alternatives, and the city council has advice on helping rough sleepers. If you are inspired for the year ahead, why not think about joining Casserole Club which connects people who like to cook and are happy to share an extra portion of a delicious home-cooked meal, with older or vulnerable neighbours living close by who could benefit from a meal and a friendly chat.