With food poverty on the rise in the UK, many more people are turning to food banks and looking for food charities to help feed themselves and their families.
There are lots of charities and organisations providing access to free food. At FoodCycle, we’re committed to helping people who are hungry or lonely get a delicious, nutritious three-course meal once a week; cooked and served for them by volunteers who also offer company and good conversation.
Our weekly community dining service not only provides free food to anyone that needs it. It also helps reduce loneliness and tackles reduce food waste by using surplus food – food which is fine to eat, but can’t be sold by the retailer.
To find out more about FoodCycle, and how you can find a free meal near you:
To visit a food bank, you usually need to be referred, and get a food voucher. Food banks work with doctors, social workers, health visitors and Citizens Advice to refer you to a food bank if they think you need free food. They will ask for some basic information about you to help them understand why you need support, and to make sure you get the right free food.
If you, or someone you know, is homeless or struggling to eat or access food, there are soup kitchens across the UK which offer free meals.
There isn’t a complete UK database of soup kitchens, as most of them are independent, but you can usually search in your area to find one. You can also try asking at your local community centre, church or at Citizens Advice.
To visit a FoodCycle community meal, you don’t need a voucher or any kind of referral. You can just turn up, sit down and enjoy tasty, hot, free food with other people from your community.
Perhaps you’re just in need of some friendly conversation, or would like to have a meal cooked for you. Whatever your reason, you’ll find a warm welcome.
One of the simplest ways to donate food to charity is to donate food to food banks. is one of the UK’s biggest free food networks and over 90% of the food they distribute is donated by the public.
There are many other charity food banks in the UK, and you’ll often find a box in your local supermarket where you can donate food (they usually have a list on the box telling you what they need that week).
The type of food that you can donate to charity food banks will depend on their service, it’s usually things like cereals, soup, pasta, rice or other tinned goods.
There are many homeless shelters around the UK, so there are far too many options for donating food to homeless shelters to list here.
The most important thing to remember is that different shelters will have different needs and rules on what they can accept (usually linked to food safety rules).
Some shelters will operate soup kitchens, and may only operate on certain days.
They best thing to do if you want to donate food to a homeless shelter, or volunteer to help, is to contact your local shelter and talk to them about the ways in which you can help.
If you’d like to help FoodCycle provide free food for people in your local area, the best way to do that is to sign up to be a volunteer. We have a variety of roles from surplus food collection, cooking, hosting or even helping out with our social media – take a look at our volunteering opportunities below.
We are only able to accept food donations from supermarkets, small independent grocery shops and markets – unlike food banks, we can’t accept food donations from members of the public.
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