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Every year in the UK, people go hungry, whether because of a recent job loss, low income, unexpected bills or homelessness. However bad it gets for our unfortunate brethren, there is a great way we can help: by volunteering in your local food bank. Since 2010, there has been an immense growth in food banks with the current number at about 425 spread around the country. Although with at least 4.7 million people living in poverty in the UK, more has got to be done.

How can you help?

Volunteering at a food bank only takes a few hours of your day to help hundreds of people. “Hunger is hidden in this country,” says Molly Hodson of the Trussell Trust, a charity that helps volunteers and a handful of professionals to run the Christ Church Food Bank in Fulham, London . The first thing you have got to look for is what food bank charities are around you, using the Trussel Trust website. Once you’ve located where the closest bank is, you can either look online at the different ways you can volunteer, or go and meet the other volunteers in person. You’ll notice the wide ranges of ways you can help the community, such as working at the centre for a few hours a day, going around the city to collect foods from supermarkets or help at the warehouse to organise the stock and clothes.

“It’s a great feeling to go home after a day at the food bank centre knowing that someone won’t go hungry that night.” Foodbank volunteer.

Helping at a food bank is not just about charity work, it’s much more than that. Volunteers also provide a listening ear to the people, and can truly be a huge help in case of a crisis. Although the number of food banks in the UK is currently rising by the week, this can only mean one thing: poverty is on the rise. However, the government claims that poverty is not the main reason for the rise in food banks, but rather influenced by food insecurity, or rather, insecurity overall. Especially in the last couple of years, with major economic changes (mainly caused by Brexit), British people living underneath the breadline feel unsafe and eager to find solutions to prevent even worse living conditions.

How other countries do it

In 2005, a group of food bank charities from Mexico, Canada and the US met to talk about a global solution for food banking, to share the same model throughout the world to help existing programs and create new ones. This soon became the GFN (The Global FoodBanking Network).

I recently found out from the U.N Food and Agriculture Organization that 1 in 9 people in the world are chronically hungry. At the same time, 1.3 billion tons of food is produced and lost every year. These two statistics are simply overwhelming. It’s hard to think that all this wasted food could save the lives of people in your community and more.

Although food banks, along with a sense of community and togetherness, is a popular movement at the moment as a result of uncertain changes, some countries do seem to be doing it better than others. Spain, for example, has had food banks and community farms for many years. They even have food bank charity installations near churches where people can insert coins and choose which charity they would like to support.

This is the perfect opportunity and time to help make a difference in your local community. Research and head to your closest food bank charity to learn about the ways you can donate to better the lives of those who need it. 

Sources: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Trussel Trust, The Independent, The Guardian,