How to help food banks during the coronavirus outbreak
Away from the stockpiling hordes, food bank workers are working hard to make sure that no one goes hungry during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s really concerning,” says Emma Revie, the chief executive of the Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest network of food banks. “We are anticipating a significant increase in users as more people are unable to work.”
The trust will continue to support communities during the outbreak. “We will stay open,” she says. “Food banks are an essential community service.” But she says the government needs to do more. “Our benefits system should be a life raft in times of crisis.”
How can you best support your local food bank? If you are not in an at-risk group and have time on your hands, volunteer. More than 30% of the trust’s project managers are 65 or older, which makes them more vulnerable to coronavirus. “We are definitely in need of additional volunteers,” Revie says. “One of our biggest threats is people becoming unwell and unable to volunteer.” You can sign up to volunteer here.
Keep donating, too: your donation is needed now more than ever. (Your local food bank may not be in the trust’s network.) “Check with your local food bank to see what they are in need of,” says Revie. “It will vary from day to day.”
If you are self-isolating, make a financial donation online instead – the food writer Jack Monroe has started a GoFundMe for the trust, or you can donate directly. Revie says they are working with supermarkets to protect the supply to their food banks.
She emphasizes that, so far, the public has stepped up. “I want to say thank you,” she says. “People are continuing to donate food and money. The fact that people are still considering how to support their local food banks during this time is a credit to the British public.”