Reverse advent calendar for #FoodbankAdvent

Picture of a box with items to donate to our local foodbank

Collecting for #Foodbankadvent

During November, I’m going to do a reverse advent calendar to support our local foodbank, Families in Need (FIND) Ipswich, as I did last year.

What’s a reverse advent calendar anyway?

It’s quite a simple idea.

With a normal advent calendar, you open a little door each day and might take out a chocolate.

With a reverse advent calendar, you put one item each day into a box, to donate to a foodbank at the end of the month. Doing a reverse advent calendar during November rather than December means the foodbank has time to distribute the contents before Christmas.

Why bother?

Because millions of people in the UK go hungry every year. And it’s getting worse.

I wish food banks didn’t exist, and find it appalling that in a developed nation like the UK so many people can’t afford to feed themselves.

But food poverty is an ever growing issue. During the last financial year, the Trussell Trust handed out more than 1.3 million three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis. Add on all the food parcels from independent foodbanks like FIND, and the total is shockingly high. No-one should go hungry, and Christmas can be a crunch time, with heating bills to pay and no school meals for children during the holidays.

Here in Suffolk, FIND gave out 3,960 food parcels and 1,050 Christmas hampers during 2017. But demand has leapt since Universal Credit was introduced locally in April, and FIND is expecting a real struggle to cope over Christmas (East Anglian Daily Times article). The five or six week delay in starting Universal Credit, and deductions from payments if people get an advance, leave many in desperate need. Analysis by the Trussell Trust showed that demand for food banks surges in areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out for a year or more – up more than half, compared to rising 13% on average elsewhere.

I originally started Much More With Less to campaign against food poverty, taking the Live Below the Line challenge, and it remains a cause I’m keen to support. At a time when many of us are overwhelmed with presents and Christmas food, I’m keen for my kids to recognise how lucky they are, and help support others. Christmas should be about giving and not just receiving.

Picture of a food bank collection box in East of England Co-op

Supermarket collection point

How to get involved

I’m participating as part of the #FoodbankAdvent Christmas campaign by the UK Money Bloggers community (more info here), but you don’t have to be a blogger, or keep it up for a whole month, to support your local food bank.

Ideas include:

  • Do a reverse advent calendar and share your progress on Twitter and Instagram using the #FoodBankAdvent hashtag
  • Put a box in your office, school or community group, to encourage other people to contribute food and other items
  • Pop some shopping into the collection box at your local supermarket
  • Donate money, as a one off, or set up a standing order to the Trussell Trust or your local independent food bank
  • Get sponsored to take part in an event

To find your nearest foodbank, search online with a place name + foodbank, or have a look on the Trussell Trust website.

Picture of cans and pasta at FIND foodbank in Ipswich

Food donated to FIND

What to include in a reverse advent calendar

Think long lasting, non perishable items like tins, jars and packets, that won’t go off before they’re distributed.

Here’s a link to a list of items included in a typical food bank parcel plus the post I wrote listing what I included and why for my reverse advent calendar last year.

It’s not just food items – people also need toiletries, sanitary products, baby supplies, even pet food. Bear in mind that many food banks could be swimming in pasta and baked beans, so it’s worth asking which supplies they really want. Here’s my post after checking which items FIND really needs right now.

One of the saddest parts last year was when I spoke to Maureen Reynel MBE from FIND, and she recommended not including chocolate advent calendars: “Opening a door each day leading up to Christmas is difficult. It brings hope about presents.

“But for many children receiving food parcels, there is no pot of gold at the end of the calendar.”

 

Now – over to you. Will you be doing a reverse advent calendar? Do you support your local food bank in other ways? Do share in the comments, I’d love to hear.

If times are tough and you might need support from a food bank, ask for a referral from a health visitor, doctor, social worker or someone from the council, police, health centres, children’s centres or Citizens Advice.

Pin for later:

Pinterest size image of items in a box as a reversea advent calendar for #Foodbankadvent

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6 Comments

  1. Sam from Swimming!
    25th October 2018 / 7:34 pm

    You put us on to this wonderful idea last year, as a family it really put life into perspective for us. Actually, for me. It made me realise that my “keeping up with the Jones’s” (Jones’? Having grammar issues!) woes with presents wasn’t half as important as what most the world was going through. In short, reminded me how lucky I am and I’ll make sure my daughters know it too.

    Oo, just so I don’t duplicate a question if you have already asked, are FIND in particular need of anything this year?

  2. 26th October 2018 / 10:20 am

    I do a reverse Advent most years, not always with Food Banks,

    Sometimes I declutter and donate one good thing to a charity shop each day or put money in various collection tins each day or support the homeless people I see regularly in Llandudno all through the month of December. (One particular homeless guy is in my budget every week of the year but even he gets extra during Advent.)

    But this year because of the situation you describe with Universal Credit and since finding a local Foodbank that is really regularly struggling I will do exactly as you are doing and Reverse Advent throughout November so they have supplies in for Christmas week.

    Thank you for the timely reminder.

    • 27th October 2018 / 7:18 am

      Glad you’ll be doing a reverse advent calendar for a food bank this year, Sue. Decluttering and donating one item a day sounds a fab idea too. I really need to do this. Maybe a January project?