It’s a shameful truth that food poverty is increasing drastically across the UK. Fortunately, there are empathetic people out there willing to donate their time, money, or purchases to help those in need. Many supermarkets now have a permanent food bank donation bin instore to allow customers to drop off their donations, so that the supermarkets can partner with organisations to redistribute them to local food banks. This is a convenient and easy way for you to donate while you’re doing the weekly shop.
Tesco Food Bank
One of the most well-known supermarkets that partners with the Trussell Trust to distribute donations to food banks is Tesco. More than 450 Tesco stores have a permanent donation point, and Tesco runs an annual food collection drive every Christmas. Tesco also tops up customer donations with 20% of their financial value to help with the costs of running food banks. There have been more than 50 million meals donated via Tesco since 2012. Look for the donation box near the foyer of your Tesco store.
Sainsburys Food Bank
The first supermarket retailer to add shelving labels highlighting food bank necessities was Sainsbury’s. Having these labels also increases donations, because it reminds people before they get to the checkout. As well as donating their own surplus food to reduce food waste, there are over 1,000 front-of-store collection points in Sainsbury’s branches. The donation bins can accept new toiletries and new condition children’s toys in addition to non-perishable food and drink items for local families in need.
Asda Food Bank
Asda works with food banks through its “Fight Hunger, Creative Change” initiative. They provide financial grants to food banks and fund research into food poverty. Asda redistributes surplus food with FareShare and accepts donations from customers at front-of-store collection points. They donate good quality products to the local organisations that sign up to receive donations. This includes products such as bread, cake, eggs, and toiletries like toothpaste and toilet roll in addition to dried or tinned food.
Morrisons Food Bank
Though it may be less known than other big supermarkets, Morrisons does actually have food donation collection points in its stores. They redistribute their surplus food to the community groups that need it, as well as passing on the food bank donations from customers. The Morrisons Foundation has also made financial donations totalling over £330,000 to help fund the efforts of the redistribution organisations. The Morrisons website even allows you to add a food bank donation if you’re shopping online.
Waitrose Food Bank
Though it has more an affluent reputation, Waitrose also has a long-standing partnership with the Trussell Trust. They make donations to help fund the charity’s learning courses and encourage customers to fundraise themselves with “Tea for Trussell” tea parties. Of course, there are also food bank donation points in Waitrose stores, where they collect both food and non-food items for redistribution. You can donate this way all year round, not just during the Christmas appeals or a fundraising drive.
Marks & Spencer Food Bank
Although they don’t actually have donation bins in stores for customers to give goods specifically for food banks, that doesn’t mean that Marks & Spencer aren’t doing their bit. Behind the scenes, they partner with Neighbourly to reduce food waste by donating surplus food from stores for redistribution to groups that need it. These donations include chilled food such as dairy, meat, and ready meals, which donation boxes usually cannot accept from customers, plus personal care items and pet food.
Aldi Food Bank
An underdog supermarket edging its way to the top in recent years is Aldi, home of Kevin the Carrot and friends. Though you might expect this discount retailer to offer food bank donation collections to support local underdogs too, Aldi does not have donation points for customers in its stores. However, Aldi does donate millions of meals’ worth of food through its surplus redistribution partnerships. The beneficiaries include children’s clubs and schools, women’s refuges, and homeless charities.
Lidl Food Bank
Similarly, Lidl is a budget retailer on the outskirts slowly but surely winning over society with its bargain deals. It also does not provide food bank donation bins for customers to donate to food banks in their stores. They donate to food banks through the Feed It Back scheme, which they launched in 2017. It connects all Lidl stores in the UK to a local food bank or other such charity which receives the surplus food from the store instead of wasting all of this. They also donate fridges and freezers for storage.
Iceland Food Bank
Iceland is a cheap, cheerful, and chilly shop, but they do not have their own nationwide food donation scheme for customers to participate in. However, they do partner with the Trussell Trust for redistribution of their surplus food. They donate freezers as well as meals to help with long-life storage and limit food waste for the community organisations who receive the donated food items. Some Iceland stores do have temporary donation points in partnership with local food banks, but you’ll need to check.
Co-Op Food Bank
The Co-Operative Group is famous for supporting community causes, which includes donating surplus food to local not-for-profit groups every day in partnership with FoodShare. Some Co-Op Food shops also have donation baskets for customers to donate appropriate items in the store. You should look out for it near the tills or entry/exit, or speak to staff in-store to find out more. Like Sainsbury’s they have also been known to highlight items that food banks will need the most with signs on shelves.
Where can you donate food to a food bank?
If you want to donate some of your food shopping to a food bank, check with the supermarket beforehand to ensure that they have a donation box. It is also possible to find a local foodbank online on the Trussell Trust website. If you would prefer to help by donating money, you can make a one-off financial donation or a regular recurring donation through the website. You can also find out how to fundraise or to volunteer with the Trussell Trust if you want to get involved and help them out some other way.
What can you donate to a food bank?
It is important not to just dump excess food items in a donation bin simply because you don’t want them anymore. The goods need to be edible and in sealed, undamaged packaging for the food banks to be able to accept them. If you truly want to help someone less fortunate, then you must also be sure to donate things that they actually need. Many food banks have a lot of pasta and beans, as this is the most commonly donated product. However, food banks also need donations of things such as:
- tinned meats
- tinned fruit or vegetables
- tinned soup or packet soup
- tinned puddings
- rice and noodles
- tea and coffee
- UHT milk or powdered milk
- long-life fruit juice
- sauces and spices
- lentils and beans
- jam and marmalade
- cereal and biscuits
- multi-packs of crisps or treats
Bear in mind that these products need to be primarily nutritious, so stick to healthy foods that can contribute to a hearty meal. Opt for reduced-sugar, reduced-fat, or reduced-salt versions of products wherever possible. You could also donate items like:
- toothpaste and toothbrushes
- shampoo and shower gel or soap
- sanitary towels and tampons
- nappies and baby wipes
- laundry detergent and powder
- deodorant and wipes
Toiletries and household products are often needed as well as food, but not all donation collection points will accept these. It is best to check beforehand to ensure that your donated goods will get to someone who needs them. All donated items must be unused and in good condition – no opened multi-packs or partially-used products. Items like children’s toys may be accepted if they are in a like-new condition, but again, you should check first. Above are some of the common items in food bank parcels.