Last year I heard of a brilliant idea to put an item of food or toiletries in a box every day in December and then give the 24 items to a local food bank on Christmas Eve. I merrily found a box, started adding items, and then called my local food bank to check when they’d like the donation. This is when I discovered that to use the items in the Christmas food parcels the bank needed the donation at the start of December. The idea of adding an item a day was ditched, I filled up the box with 24 items and took to the food bank that week.
I love the ethos behind this donation and I think a way to really make the most of it is to fill the box during the month of November. That way 30 rather than 24 items are collected and the box reaches the food bank in time for the festive items to be included in the Christmas food parcels. Obviously food banks take donations and make great use of them all year round but Christmas crackers and food are really better given out to the people who will benefit from them before 25 December than after.
So, who wants to join in #30DayFestiveFoodBank? The more people who get involved, the more we all share it on social media, the more people who learn about it the more donations can be made!
Here’s what to do:
• Go to The Trussell Trust’s website and find your local food bank
• Check on the local site what grocery items are on their most wanted list
• Make a list of your own including:
– festive food such as mince pies, chocolate coins, selection boxes
– food that isn’t a staple such as chutneys, relishes or sweet treats
– Christmas items such as crackers, small stocking gifts or tree decorations
– toiletries such as deodorant, tampons, shaving foam, toothpaste, shampoo and also washing powder/liquid
– pet food can be included in your donation
• Leave out fresh food, anything refrigerated or alcohol as food banks can’t accept them
• Choose smaller rather than larger bags of sugar, pasta, rice etc, as the people who receive the food packages need to carry them home and may struggle with kilogram bags. Sealed food can’t be opened and split into smaller quantities.
• Think about the kinds of products and brands that you like, what your family are going to be eating and using in December and include those in your list
• Bear in mind use by dates, make sure the date is at least until the end of January 2017 so the recipients can make full use of the item
• Food packages may be given out in plastic bags so if you have any spare you can donate those too
• Find one or two big boxes and add an item to the box each day in November
• Share photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #30DayFestiveFoodBank and spread the word to encourage others to join in. The Trussell Trust have a Facebook page and Twitter account so you can tag them too.
• In the first week of December pop along to your local food bank and hand over your donation
Wouldn’t it be brilliant if even just a few of us fill a box of goodies for our local food banks? Just think what a difference it would make to the lives of those living in our communities. The individuals and families who are referred to a food bank are living unbelievably tough lives and won’t be looking forward to a feast on Christmas Day. But you and I can do something to let them know that they’re not alone. We can support the amazing work food banks do and spread a little Christmas cheer a little further. Please do spread the #30DayFestiveFoodBank word far and wide and let’s get the festive feeling flowing now.
PS As well as food, toiletries and pet food, your food bank could really do with financial donations. Even if they use premises free of charge, and are staffed by volunteers, they still need to pay for electricity, heating, water, phone and broadband as well as the cost of any fundraising materials. Give your local food bank a call to find out what they really need your help with.