Shopping, food bank style

The two shopping trollies below are parked in the corner of my local Sainsbury’s. Food banks mostly receive the bulk of their donations at harvest and/or Christmas, but the Southampton City Mission trollies are a permanent feature in the supermarket and excitingly always have bits and pieces in them whenever I go past. I confess I sometimes try subtly peering over, just out of curiosity to see what’s inside, but often the trollies are virtually full to the top anyway.

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It’s really nice to know how generous the community is, although such generosity isn’t limited to Southampton, of course. I was touched recently to get a lovely email from a friend and fellow blogger who lives in London, who told me she and her husband regularly contribute to a food bank, through their local Tesco:

We try to do this once a month – it’s amazing how many essentials you can get for just over a tenner, and how many meals that makes, especially for kids – and we hope it makes a difference somewhere.

Food banks have started providing ‘shopping lists’, explaining what items would be most useful, but I have to say, as somebody who’s now spent quite a lot of time sorting through these donations, I find that people tend to give the same types of food. That baked beans are one of the items SCM is never in short supply of goes without saying, and soup, pasta, rice and tuna are also plentiful. So here are five alternatives to the usual food bank fare:

  1. Vegetarian food
    • Macaroni cheese, veggie sausages/meatballs, lentils and pulses are all winners
    • Some thoughtful people also donate lactose and gluten free products
  2. Pet food
    • Clients sometimes ask for cat or dog food, and it’s great to be able to give pet food to somebody whose dog you can actually see sitting by the front door!
  3. Baby food
    • Nappies can also be very handy
  4. Treats
    • We love being able to give out a little something extra, like sweets, chocolates (fun sized bags are ideal), crackers, crisps, breadsticks, cereal bars or dried fruit
  5. Toiletries
    • Because if clients can’t afford to buy food, they may not be able to afford to buy toothpaste or shower gel either

Be it beans or baby food, food banks and those they help are always incredibly grateful for everything they receive, so if you happen to be passing a collection point while you’re next out and about, pop something inside.

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