9 quick tips for a 2021 reverse advent calendar

Picture of a hamper with long life food items and toiletries to donate to a local food bank

Last year’s reverse advent calendar for #FoodBankAdvent

The first three items I bought for my reverse advent calendar 2021 for #FoodBankAdvent weren’t even food: shower gel, deodorant and hand sanitiser.

Yes, it’s that time of year when I do a reverse advent calendar for our local food bank. I pop one thing into a box every day during November, so I can drop it off at the food bank in early December, ready to be distributed before Christmas. 

I wish I didn’t have to write this post.

It’s the fifth year I’ve taken part in #FoodBankAdvent alongside other UK Money Bloggers, but I’ve been donating to food banks for longer than that. In fact, part of the reason I started this blog back in 2013 was my horror that almost 350,000 people in crisis were given emergency food parcels by Trussell Trust food banks that year. 

How could that be possible when the UK is one of the richest nations in the world?

How can it now be possible, eight years later, that rather than solving the problem of hunger, the Trussell Trust is giving out more than SEVEN TIMES as many food parcels? In fact during 2020/21, it distributed over 2.5 million emergency food packages to people in crisis. 

And that’s only the 1,300 odd food banks in the Trussell Trust network.

It doesn’t include more than 500 independent food banks that are part of the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN), or other food banks run by the Salvation Army, schools and churches.

Every single day, people are going hungry due to benefits being cut, delayed or inadequate. Life events such as illness, relationship breakdown and job loss can all cause money problems. Some of the most vulnerable in our society just slip through the cracks. No-one should go hungry, and especially not at Christmas. But with the £20 a week cut in Universal Credit, and rising costs of everything from fuel to food, I fear there will be more need for food banks than ever before.

So, yet again, I’m taking part in #FoodBankAdvent, and hoping other people will too. 

Tips for a reverse advent calendar 2021

Here are 9 quick tips if you’d like to take part in #FoodBankAdvent:

  • Think long life items such as tins, jars and packets of dried food. 
  • Remember food banks don’t only supply food: many give out essentials such as toiletries, sanitary protection and baby supplies too
  • Check what your local food bank actually needs, via their website or Facebook page. They might be swimming in baked beans and drowning in pasta, but desperate for tinned meat and fish. Previous post: What does your food bank actually need
  • Remember that those who can’t afford food probably can’t afford to have the oven on for hours either, or may not have access to cooking facilities. That’s why pre-prepared food (eg cuppa soup, tins of soup, pasta sauces) or food that doesn’t need cooking (eg tinned meat, cereal, biscuits) are so helpful.
  • Avoid alcohol and food that might go off before it can be distributed, which might mean, for example, no Christmas puddings or mince pies
  • Don’t dump weird and wonderful food you don’t want to eat yourself. If you didn’t fancy the jar of maraschino cherries or tin of stuffed vine leaves going dusty at the back of your cupboard, why would anyone else?
  • Spread the word. Tell people what you’re doing, share on social media, set up a collection box at work, and encourage others to donate too.
  • Aim to drop off your donation well before December 25, so there is time for it to be sorted and distributed. Many food banks only operate part time. 
  • Consider donating money instead. Setting up a standing order to your local food bank provides a regular reliable source of income, which can then be spent where it is most needed.

Now – over to you. Will you be taking part in #FoodBankAdvent and doing a reverse advent calendar? What are your top tips?

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