What kind of food goes into a foodbank parcel?
As a member of The Trussell Trust foodbank network, we use a standard packing list for each emergency food parcel that goes to someone referred to us. The list varies depending on how many people live in the household, but they generally contain things like pasta or rice, tinned vegetables and fruit, soup, UHT milk, tinned fish, fruit juice and biscuits.
We always ask people about any dietary requirements, and we also ask people about any preferences on flavours or items on the packing list, so if donations allow for it, we can see someone taking home food they like. There’s no point giving someone tinned sardines if they only like tinned tuna!
You can read more about this on The Trussell Trust’s website: https://www.trusselltrust.org/2018/06/08/whats-trussell-trust-foodbank-parcel/
Why do foodbanks give out unhealthy food to people?
As a member of The Trussell Trust foodbank network, we use a standard packing list for each emergency food parcel that goes to someone referred to us. This is to make sure the parcels provide healthy, nutritionally-balanced food for three days.
Nutrition guidelines change over time, so The Trussell Trust are continually consulting with nutritionists to check the standard parcel still meets recommendations for emergency provision. On average, people come to a foodbank in The Trussell Trust’s network foodbank twice in a year, so parcels really are for short-term use. You can read the latest report on the standard parcel here.
1) We’re lucky that we are have capacity and volunteers to safely store and offer fresh food as an extra when we have it, and we’re grateful that our partnerships help us to give fresh fruit/vegetables/eggs/bread/milk on top of the standard parcel whenever we have those items.
2) Unfortunately we do not have capacity to offer fresh food safely on top of standard non-perishable food parcels at the moment – our foodbank centres are based in local churches as ‘pop up’ centres for a few hours, not built-for-purpose buildings every day of the week, and the safety of people referred to us has to be our first priority.
Is the food given out by foodbanks fueling an obesity epidemic?
No. The nutritionists that analysed the content of food parcels provided by foodbanks in The Trussell Trust’s network are clear: parcels provided over three days are highly unlikely to be a causal factor for obesity and there is absolutely no evidence linking these food parcels to long-term weight gain.
Wouldn’t just putting fridges into every foodbank solve the problem?
It’s a bit more complicated than that – many foodbank centres are based in local churches as ‘pop up’ centres for a few hours, not built-for-purpose buildings, so there isn’t automatically the space or safety to just get a fridge in there, or organize appropriate transport for perishable food.
The Trussell Trust’s new three-year partnership with Asda and FareShare means they’ll be looking at ways to support foodbanks across the network to have the opportunity to safely offer fresh food alongside the standard parcel, helping with things like refrigeration and transporting perishable food. You can read more about this here: https://www.trusselltrust.org/2018/06/08/whats-trussell-trust-foodbank-parcel/