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AMA

I manage a food bank. AMA

145 replies

Wetherforks · 06/01/2024 19:07

I manage and run a food bank in a UK city. It's Saturday night and I'm bored. Happy to try and answer if anyone has any questions!

OP posts:
Chokadee · 06/01/2024 19:10

I like to give nice quality items, sometimes luxury items as I'd like people to have a treat. I sometimes worry that they get 'cherry picked' by people who help out. Does this happen?

Dacadactyl · 06/01/2024 19:11

Is it part of a UK wide organisation or a smaller independent foodbank?

How do people get referred to you? EG via agencies or can they just turn up.

sunshineandshowers40 · 06/01/2024 19:12

Do you get an influx of obvious Christmas food regifts at this time of year? Are they wanted or do you prefer people to stick to the lists on the local food bank website?

Dacadactyl · 06/01/2024 19:12

Chokadee · 06/01/2024 19:10

I like to give nice quality items, sometimes luxury items as I'd like people to have a treat. I sometimes worry that they get 'cherry picked' by people who help out. Does this happen?

Do you really think this? That people who volunteer in foodbanks would take treat foods for themselves?!

SuperGinger · 06/01/2024 19:13

If donating what are the most useful things, I sometimes give gluten free because DH is gluten free and it's more expensive, also tampons and nappies

Wetherforks · 06/01/2024 19:15

Chokadee · 06/01/2024 19:10

I like to give nice quality items, sometimes luxury items as I'd like people to have a treat. I sometimes worry that they get 'cherry picked' by people who help out. Does this happen?

No, absolutely not! Some of our volunteers are also service users - but they don't get any preferential treatment when it comes to food items!

OP posts:
Wetherforks · 06/01/2024 19:16

Dacadactyl · 06/01/2024 19:11

Is it part of a UK wide organisation or a smaller independent foodbank?

How do people get referred to you? EG via agencies or can they just turn up.

It's independent. And no referral system either, you can just turn up. It's a great ethos, although comes with its own challenges as you can probably imagine.

OP posts:
Illbefinejustbloodyfine · 06/01/2024 19:17

Would you rather have quantity over quality? For example 4 boxes supermarket version, or 1 box kelloggs.

hopscotcher · 06/01/2024 19:19

Is there anything less 'obvious' that it would be useful for people to donate?

Wetherforks · 06/01/2024 19:20

sunshineandshowers40 · 06/01/2024 19:12

Do you get an influx of obvious Christmas food regifts at this time of year? Are they wanted or do you prefer people to stick to the lists on the local food bank website?

Yes, but absolutely not a problem. Non food items we can store for next Christmas. Food items with shorter dates are just given out along with other food. A couple of years ago we had a whole load of chocolate biscuit selections donated, which we gave out at Easter. Chocolate is welcome any time of year!

OP posts:
Dacadactyl · 06/01/2024 19:21

Wetherforks · 06/01/2024 19:16

It's independent. And no referral system either, you can just turn up. It's a great ethos, although comes with its own challenges as you can probably imagine.

Thanks.

Do you ever turn anyone away e.g if you think they are taking advantage?

Do you limit the amount of times they can come eg once a month, or can they come every week?

EasterMummie · 06/01/2024 19:23

How do you feel about recent criticism that donating to food banks normalises them & so there is less inventive for the government to try and sort out the root causes of food poverty?

EasterMummie · 06/01/2024 19:24

Also does the foodbank buy specialist food for people with food allergy/celiac or are they able to give cash instead so that person can shop somewhere more appropriate?

GrannyAchingsShepherdsHut · 06/01/2024 19:24

Is it true you're not allowed to give out baby formula? I always think that would be a good thing to donate, but I'm sure I read somewhere it's covered by the same law that advertising it - something about promoting.

stcrispinsday · 06/01/2024 19:25

Thank you for doing what you do.

What are the items you always need more of?

Wetherforks · 06/01/2024 19:26

SuperGinger · 06/01/2024 19:13

If donating what are the most useful things, I sometimes give gluten free because DH is gluten free and it's more expensive, also tampons and nappies

These are great donations. Gluten free is really useful, as is dairy free, especially milk alternatives. All sizes of nappies - and adult nappies/incontinence pads. For us, there is not so much need for tampons - we have a lot of ethnic minority clients and they tend to prefer sanitary pads, we never have enough of these. All kinds of toiletries are useful though.

OP posts:
EasterMummie · 06/01/2024 19:26

One more, what is the strangest item you've had donated?

I'm also interested in the answer to illbefinejustbloodyfine question above whether quality or quantity is preferred.

Also what items get left/noone wants.

Wetherforks · 06/01/2024 19:28

Illbefinejustbloodyfine · 06/01/2024 19:17

Would you rather have quantity over quality? For example 4 boxes supermarket version, or 1 box kelloggs.

I'd say quantity. But anything you give is amazing!

OP posts:
Wetherforks · 06/01/2024 19:31

Dacadactyl · 06/01/2024 19:21

Thanks.

Do you ever turn anyone away e.g if you think they are taking advantage?

Do you limit the amount of times they can come eg once a month, or can they come every week?

It's limited to once a week. The only time anyone is turned away is if they are persistently aggressive or abusive towards volunteers.

Some people take advantage I'm sure. But would rather put up with that than turn away people who come often but are really struggling.

OP posts:
mysparkleismissing · 06/01/2024 19:33

I've just been accepted as a driver for an independent food bank collecting from supermarkets and taking to their base.

Any tips?

RoseAndRose · 06/01/2024 19:37

I sometimes donate the second half of a BOGOF - which can be something quite random that never features on my local food bank's "wanted" list. Is this just a PITA?

Wetherforks · 06/01/2024 19:40

EasterMummie · 06/01/2024 19:23

How do you feel about recent criticism that donating to food banks normalises them & so there is less inventive for the government to try and sort out the root causes of food poverty?

I don't think donating is the problem (although I would say that, wouldn't I?). I think 80% of food bank use IS down to government failure and there are huge issues and holes in the welfare system.

But in the meantime, people are hungry and struggling. Closing foodbanks to make a political point (I realise that's not what you're saying exactly) is just going to hurt the people who need help the most.

OP posts:
AllTheChaos · 06/01/2024 19:46

I use one of the shops that sells products past their Best Before date, but before the Use By date, as it saves quite a lot of money. Only for long life items of course. I’ve often wondered about buying one or two things to donate to the food bank, but am not sure if they can / would be happy to accept things past the BBE?

Wetherforks · 06/01/2024 19:46

EasterMummie · 06/01/2024 19:24

Also does the foodbank buy specialist food for people with food allergy/celiac or are they able to give cash instead so that person can shop somewhere more appropriate?

We don't give out cash. We try to keep allergy-specific food in stock, eg by not giving it out with the general food (can be tricky to get volunteers to understand this!). It's not always possible, as there are lots of potential allergies. Donations are always welcome, and do tell the foodbank if anything is gluten free/vegan/dairy free etc.

There are regulations about flagging items with nuts, for example.

OP posts:
AllTheChaos · 06/01/2024 19:47

Oh! I understand that due to fuel poverty, food that doesn’t need cooking can be really useful. What sort of things do you recommend?

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