#FoodBankAdvent: How it works, and why you should take part

Join me and hundreds more in donating food and raising awareness of food poverty with a reverse advent calendar.

Many of you know I also run the UK Money Bloggers community. It’s a group of people like me. We’re all a bit geeky when it comes to money, and we enjoy sharing our passion with the readers of all our blogs. It’s a lovely network and a great source of support for everyone involved. But that’s not all it does.

Collectively we’ve got hundreds of thousands of readers, Insta-groupies, Facebook fans and Twitter followers. We’re what the industry calls “Digital Influencers”. And this means we can make a difference en mass. Or at least make a decent bit of noise.

So each year we run a Christmas campaign. A couple of years ago we had the idea of #FoodBankAdvent  and this’ll be the fourth year we’re doing it. Tens of thousands of people have taken part, and we want even more of you to join in this year.

What is the #FoodBankAdvent challenge?

You all know how advent calendars work. Well this is a reverse advent calendar. Rather than take something away, you give instead.

The challenge is to do this for 24 days. On each day you put an item into a box. And then once the box is full, you donate it to a food bank.

It’s very simple. Yes, you could just donate a box of food in one go (please do!), but doing it this way not only makes it a bit of a project, but it also helps raise awareness of the need for donations.

Each year many of the people taking part, both bloggers and readers, shared their pictures on social media with the hashtag #FoodBankAdvent and it makes a huge difference getting more people to join in.

Why food banks?

Millions of people in the UK are going hungry every year. Some of this is down to debts and low pay, but delays to Universal Credit payments are often making the matter worse.

And 2020 has either made it worse or pushed more people into need. A third of families have lost income in 2020, while one in 10 children have experienced food insecurity in the last six months.

Those struggling don’t have enough money to cover their essentials, and that often means there’s not enough money to eat.

The most recent figures from the Trussell Trust, which runs the largest network of food banks in the UK, show they distributed three-day emergency food supplies to 1.9 million over the 12 month period BEFORE the pandemic. It’s shocking that this happens.

If you aren’t convinced, then watch Ken Loach’s film I, Daniel Blake. It’s an amazing film, even if I was in tears for most of it. Please do watch the whole movie, but if you can’t, then watch this clip. It really brought home to me the needs to do something to stop food poverty.

Now is the time to start your reverse advent calendar

You can do this at any time, but it helps to do it in November. The main reason is you are then ready to donate it in early December rather than just before Christmas.

Food banks are usually staffed by volunteers and rarely open every day. That means the earlier you get your donations to them, the easier it is for them to sort the items and get them to people. A donation on Christmas Eve might seem the most festive, but it’s also the least practical.

You can of course donate in the New Year instead if you want, just make sure the dates on the food you are collecting are long enough. And if you can, please do continue to donate throughout 2021.

How you can take part

It’s really easy. Start collecting extra bits when you go to the supermarket. And not just food. Toiletries, including sanitary towels, are expensive too and are very welcome donations.

Here’s my collection from 2019:

It’s well worth checking out what your local food bank needs, as often there’s a surplus of some items (pasta and beans for example) and a lack of others.

You can search for Trussell Trust food banks by postcode, but there might be others in your area run by local community or church groups. It might be you need to take your donation to one of the foodbanks, but you might also have a drop off point at your local supermarket (there’s one in my Waitrose for example).

Please, please, please do share your progress on social media, and use #FoodBankAdvent. Combined we can use this to make some noise and get even more people taking part.

You can also read more about the campaign and get regular updates over at www.ukmoneybloggers.com

3 thoughts on “#FoodBankAdvent: How it works, and why you should take part

  1. Thanks for this – I’m a volunteer at my local Trussell Trust foodbank, and sadly we are seeing a steady increase in numbers, particularly since the roll out of Universal Credit. Please could I just say that items we are particularly short of include UHT milk and fruit juice, tinned fruit and rice pudding, and small packs of washing powder are also appreciated by our clients (if you can’t afford to buy food, you can’t afford to buy washing powder, toiletries, loo paper, etc.). We currently have plenty of baked beans and pasta, but any other long life food will be gratefully received. Sadly, we aren’t able to deal with fresh produce such as fruit, vegetables, bread, cheese, etc., as we simply don’t have the facilities to store and distribute perishable items. Thank you to everyone who gives even one item to their local foodbank … every little helps, and we couldn’t do it without you!

    1. Yes, it’s so important to see what is needed locally and not to just guess. Lovely to hear you’re volunteering.

  2. thanks for the #Foodbankadvent inspiration

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